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Calls for all claims of sexual abuse in Defence Forces to be investigated fully as Coveney vows dept ‘won’t hold back’

Calls for all claims of sexual abuse in Defence Forces to be investigated fully as Coveney vows dept ‘won’t hold back’

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ALL claims of sexual abuse in the Defence Forces must be investigated fully, an independent senator has urged.

Gerard Craughwell has called on alleged victims of abuse while serving in the army to come forward and report their claims to gardai.

Calls for all claims of sexual abuse in Defence Forces to be investigated fully as Coveney vows dept ‘won’t hold back’
Senator Ger Craughwell says all abuse claims must be investigated
Calls for all claims of sexual abuse in Defence Forces to be investigated fully as Coveney vows dept ‘won’t hold back’
The Defence Forces have been rocked by sexual abuse allegations
Alamy

Several former members have raised concerns in recent weeks about how allegations of sexual assault at the Curragh Camp were handled by the organization.

Craughwell, 67 – who served in the army until 1980 – expressed confidence that cops will uncover the truth of the matter, having spoken to them on the issue.

He told the Irish Sun: “I have been contacted on this issue some time ago, and I referred the matter to the gardai, which is the only place to have it referred to.

“I’m satisfied that the gardai have done their work. I’ve also been in correspondence with the Defence Forces, and I can tell you that all of us take these allegations extremely seriously.

“I know the Chief of Staff will initiate a full investigation, and I also know that the Chief of Staff has called on people to engage with the gardai.”

COME FORWARD

He added: “This is a very serious situation.

“I’ve had contacts from many, many soldiers and service people throughout the country who’ve come to me saying, ‘I’ve served X number of years and I’ve never heard anything like that’, or ‘Y number of years and never heard it’, and I never heard anything like it during my own service.

“But that is not to say it didn’t happen. The nature of this type of abuse is that it happens in sort of a covert way, and regrettably, it’s only years later that it comes out.

“I wish the gardai well in their investigation, and to the victims that come forward, I sincerely hope they get the answers that allow them to find peace.

“I think there’s only one inquiry that needs to be done at this stage and that is the garda investigation.

“I don’t see any need for setting up a public inquiry at this stage, depending on what the gardai uncover, then it’s a matter for the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Defence to agree how to progress the matter forward.

“I would call for anyone with claims to come forward.”

‘NO HOLDING BACK’

Earlier, the Minister for Defence promised his department “won’t be holding back” while investigating any sex abuse claims.

Simon Coveney told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “Of course (I’d be open to a departmental or independent inquiry).

“I’m open to establishing the truth. Any allegations of sexual abuse in the Defence Forces, or anywhere else for that matter, have to be fully investigated, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

“Any cases of sexual abuse that have come to us in the Department of Defence, we send to the gardai.

“One individual, Anthony O’Brien, who’s named in the media, has been met by my department, in terms of his concerns.

“We sent his file to An Garda Siochana, he’s been met also and interviewed by the gardai.

“They’ve confirmed that there isn’t a garda investigation about systematic, historical sex abuse in the Curragh Camp, which had been suggested by some.

“But look, of course, if there are any claims or concerns, we want to hear about them, and we will investigate them fully.

“In my view, the appropriate course of action is of course to send the file to An Garda Siochana for them to investigate a criminal offense.

“But if there is evidence to suggest there is something more widespread that needs to be investigated, I can assure you we won’t be holding back in terms of establishing the truth.”

Calls for all claims of sexual abuse in Defence Forces to be investigated fully as Coveney vows dept ‘won’t hold back’
Simon Coveney vowed his department won’t hold back in their investigation
Paul Sharp – Commissioned by The Sun Dublin