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Defence Forces

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 28 June 2022

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Questions (83)

Thomas Gould


83. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Defence if he will report on his latest engagement with a group (details supplied). [34159/22]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

 I am 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. 

As the Deputy is aware, there was extensive engagement with the Women of Honour Group and other stakeholders, on the establishment of an Independent Review to examine issues relating to unacceptable behaviour in the Defence Forces.   Without question, the engagements raised very serious concerns and I wish to pay tribute to all parties, including Women of Honour, for the courage they displayed in sharing their experiences. 

The last meeting with the Women of Honour Group, took place earlier this year on 25 January where I provided an update on the Government decision to proceed with the Independent Review, and on the agreed Terms of Reference. This was the seventh meeting at senior official level held with the Women of Honour Group, three of which I personally attended.

The experiences shared and the views recieved from all parties informed the Terms of Reference for the Judge-led Independent Review, which was approved by Governmnent on 25th January last. 

The work of the Independent Review Group is well underway. I had a very fruitful meeting with the members, namely, Ms. Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon, Ms. Jane Williams and Mr. Mark Connaughton, on 25 April last and plan to meet them again in the coming weeks. 

I would continue to strongly encourage all stakeholders, including the Women of Honour Group and serving members, who have yet to do so, to engage with the Independent Review Group, as their contribution will be critically important in taking this work forward. The Independent Review Group is continuing to accept submissions from individuals and organisations on issues relevant to its Terms of Reference.

The Government recognises the need to allow the Independent Review Group to do its work as a critical and necessary step. These assurances have been relayed to the Women of Honour Group.