I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 94, 95, 108, 112, 130, 131, 137 and 142 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, a number of other Deputies have submitted questions on this important matter, to which I have responded. In that respect, the House will be aware of the actions being taken to establish an independent review, which will be undertaken by external, independent and unbiased experts. The review will examine the effectiveness of current policies and procedures dealing with workplace issues, such as dignity, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.
I had the opportunity to meet with participants from the Women of Honour group and with a group of serving members of the Defence Forces on Tuesday of this week, where I listened carefully to their views. I have given my commitment that the serious issues they have raised will be comprehensively addressed. The terms of the review are being finalised and will be considered in light of the issues raised by the Women of Honour group and the group of serving female members at recent meetings. Further engagement with stakeholders, including the representative associations, will additionally inform the final terms of the review. We are also organising the structure that the Women of Honour will be comfortable with, I hope, in an ongoing engagement to make sure we are not missing anything for which they are asking, before we finalise the terms of the review.
Arising from the 2002 publication of the external advisory committee on the Defence Forces and the three subsequent reports from the independent monitoring group, a number of reforms were implemented in the intervening years for addressing allegations of inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment, harassment and bullying, which are contained in regulation and policy documents. While there has been progress in recent years, it is clear from the views expressed to me that the pervading culture and the application of the current policies, systems and procedures in place for dealing with bullying, harassment, discrimination and sexual harassment and assault have not served, and are not serving, all Defence Forces personnel well.
The independent review, which had been under consideration for several months, is timely and necessary and needs to be undertaken without delay. It is also my intention to bring the final report from this review to Government. I know, from my discussions with these women, that they are seeking change to ensure the Defence Forces of the future is a place where inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated and where all individuals, both men and women, can reach their full potential in safety and in a positive environment. I can also confirm I am looking to establish interim solutions to support Defence Forces members, past or present, affected by these issues. Options are under consideration. Deputy Gannon and others have raised a number of suggestions in that space, which we will take on board.
I assure the Deputies that the Chief of Staff, Secretary General and I, are absolutely committed to providing a safe place of work for all employees in the defence organisation, both male and female. All individuals have a right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity in the workplace and to carry out their duties free from any form of bullying, gender discrimination, or harassment, to reach their full potential.