Tánaiste and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin TD, today published the report of the Independent Review Group on dignity and equality issues in the Defence Forces.
While acknowledging that the Defence Forces have a proud and rich legacy of peacekeeping and service since its foundation 100 years ago, the report reveals a pattern of unacceptable behaviour, misogyny, discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct within our Defence Forces.
It also states that out-of-date policies and procedures for tackling complaints are not fit for purpose.
At this morning’s Cabinet meeting Government agreed to progress, as a priority, the report’s recommendations, including:
- Establishment of a statutory inquiry to investigate whether there have been serious systemic failures in dealing with individual complaints, including sexual misconduct.
- Setting up an External Oversight Body to increase transparency and accountability; and to drive necessary culture change throughout the Defence Forces;
- Urgently reforming the existing mechanisms for making a complaint to restore faith and trust in the complaints process.
- Preparing legislation to:-
- o establish an independent complaints mechanism for serving members of the Defence Forces;
- o establish the External Oversight Body on a statutory basis; and
- o amend the Defence Act, 1954 to allow all allegations of rape, or aggravated sexual assault in the Defence Forces in the State be referred to An Garda Síochána for investigation.
- a significant programme of reform and culture change delivered by external experts, with measures to eradicate reprisals and retaliation, and develop new policies on gender, inclusion and diversity.
Reacting to the publication of the report, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said:
“I believe that this report is a watershed moment. While it correctly acknowledges the high regard in which the Defence Forces is held, and its decades of peacekeeping roles, it nonetheless, signals the critical need for fundamental and immediate cultural change which goes to the very heart of issues relating to dignity, mutual respect and duty of care.
“Bullying, misogynistic behaviour, and any form of sexual misconduct is simply unacceptable, and has no place in a 21st century workplace.”
Thanking the Review Group, chaired by Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon for their work, and acknowledging the courage by members of the Defence Forces in sharing their experiences, the Tánaiste added:
“In particular, I want to thank the Women of Honour, and Women and Men of Honour, who have done so much to raise awareness of these issues.
“I will be progressing a comprehensive programme of immediate actions to address the extremely serious shortcomings identified in this report.
“As Minister for Defence I, and the government is absolutely determined that this report must be, and will be, the catalyst for transformation of Ireland’s Defence Forces.”
Link to Report here.
Additional Support Information:
For those members, both serving and former, who have been affected by unacceptable behaviour, the following supports continue to be available:
The independent and external Confidential Contact Person (CCP) with Raiseaconcern can be contacted using the following:
Landline 01 6107929
Mobile: 086 0299929
Post: Raiseaconcern, Station House, The Waterways, Sallins, Co. Kildare W91 DN60
The 24/7 confidential counselling service, INSPIRE is available to all individuals who avail of the CCP facility. Callers mention “Defence Forces” when they call and they will be routed to the appropriate person. To access INSPIRE, please call 1800 409-673. Personnel serving overseas can access the service using 00-353-1-685-681.
The Personal Support Service (PSS) for serving members. The PSSO and Occupational Social Worker network in each Brigade/Formation supports serving personnel and their families in times of crisis and general difficulty. Services include provision of a wide range of information and advice, stress management, counselling and referral to specialist assistance.
The Chaplaincy Service provides confidential, comprehensive pastoral support and spiritual care to serving personnel at home and overseas. You should contact your local chaplain in this regard.
For those affected by sexual crimes, they should contact Garda National Protective Services Bureau Number: 01 6663430/35: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rape Crisis Centre operates the National 24-hour Helpline 1800 778888 for those who need support in any part of the country www.drcc.ie