The Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces contains many detailed recommendations. A process to consider these recommendations in consultation with Ministerial colleagues and other stakeholders has been completed. I intend to return to Government with a response and a high-level action plan in advance of the summer recess.
It would therefore, be inappropriate for me comment further in advance of Government's consideration.
Notwithstanding this, I believe that it is critically important that the Defence Forces reflects the modern demographics of today’s Irish society. To that end, the Defence Forces is committed to supporting a diverse workforce through its various policies and strategies. These include the "Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement and Action Plan" launched in 2016. In addition, in 2016, the Defence Forces LGBTA Network "Defend with Pride" was established to provide support and guidance to LBGT personnel and allies.
On 30 November 2021, the Chief of Staff convened the Organisational Culture Standing Committee (OCSC), to provide an enduring structure to drive and co-ordinate the process of cultural change into the future. The OCSC aims to raise the consciousness of the personnel currently serving in the Defence Forces.
The Government remains committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities.
The Government is also committed to ensuring that every member of the Defence Forces has the right to undertake their duties in a safe environment underpinned by dignity and equality. It is clear that the systems, policies and pervading culture in the Defence Forces, have not, and are not serving all Defence Forces personnel well.
Accordingly, as the Deputy will be aware, I established the Judge-led Independent Review Group (IRG), on 25 January last, following Government approval, to examine issues relating to bullying, harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct, as well as workplace culture, in the Defence Forces. I can confirm to the Deputy that the work of the Review Group is well underway.
I, along with the Secretary General and Chief of Staff, are fully committed to ensuring that every member of the Defence Forces has the right to undertake their duties in a safe environment underpinned by dignity and equality.