30 Jun 2022

Longford / Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke backs calls for inquiry into Defence Forces allegations

Documentary highlights the problems faced by women in the military

Longford / Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke  backs calls for inquiry into Defence Forces allegations

The Government has been urged to set up inquiry into Defence Forces allegations

The Government has been urged to set up an independent inquiry into allegations of abuse within the Defence Forces.

The calls follow an investigation broadcast by RTÉ Radio One, revealing a series of allegations relating to conduct within the Defence Forces.

Longford trad star set for top TG4 award

Longford's rich association with Irish music has been given further impetus following confirmation of rising musician Angelina Carberry's latest prestigious accolade.

Titled 'Women of Honour', the programme detailed the experiences of former female members and included accounts from women who spoke of incidents of alleged sexual abuse.

The Department of Defence said in a statement that there are robust policies, practices and procedures in place within the Defence Forces for addressing allegations of this nature, and their allegations relating to sexual offences are taken very seriously by Minister Simon Coveney.

The statement acknowledged that the Minister has been in receipt of correspondence outlining a number of allegations and is “currently examining the overall response to that correspondence with a view to conducting an independent assessment of actions taken to date, and whether any other actions should be adopted”.

Responding to a series of questions from RTÉ, the Defence Forces said: “It is inappropriate for Óglaigh na hÉireann to comment on individual cases or allegations of a criminal or disciplinary nature or any measures that would fall within the purview of the protected Disclosure Act 2014.”

Sinn Féin's defence spokesperson Sorca Clarke said today that the allegations made are "very serious and deeply disturbing".

"I support survivors' calls for an independent inquiry into these allegations. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to establish the extent of these issues and ensure that steps are taken to ensure justice for survivors," she said.

Deputy Clarke said Minister Coveney must now waive any Non Disclosure Agreements in relation to settlements paid to members of the Defence Forces to facilitate survivors in coming forward to discuss their experiences of abuse should they choose to.

She added, "No survivor should feel silenced and prevented from sharing their story due to the threat of an NDA. The Minister must also meet with those involved with the Women of Honour group as a priority in order to listen to their concerns and their calls for action. These survivors’ stories must be not be silenced and survivors must be afforded the respect and dignity of sharing their stories if they choose to do so.”

Social Democrats defence spokesperson Gary Gannon said: "It is clear that there remains a culture of bullying, misogyny and discrimination against women that is not only tolerated, but continues to thrive in today's Defence Forces.

"I will further be calling for the Minister for Defence, and the Secretary General of his Department, to come to our Committee to answer questions about the length of time he has been aware of these complaints and to request an independent investigation into this toxic culture."

Labour's Mark Wall said that the contents of the programme required "urgent attention from the minister" while Áontu's Peadar Tóibín said there must be an independent and external investigation into sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination within the Defence Forces.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.