WOMEN OF HONOUR Simon Coveney pledges independent external review after meeting alleged female army sexual abuse victims
In response to allegations of sexual assault and discrimination by female members of the Defence Forces,
Defence Minister Simon Coveney has promised an impartial external assessment.
The ladies detailed alleged sexual assault, discrimination, and harassment by other members over a 30-year period.
Coveney met with the Women of Honour group and much female military personnel.
Minister Coveney promised them rapid action after the meeting.
“The challenges they have presented are quite severe and require comprehensive solutions,” he said.
“I apologise to everyone who has suffered while serving in the Defence Forces and guarantee them that the State will conduct an independent review.
“Let me be very clear. The Independent Review to assess the effectiveness of certain policies and procedures will be conducted by external, unbiased experts in the field. I also intend to present the Review’s final report to Government.”
The Minister praised the Women of Honour organisation and those serving personnel who stood out for their country.
I thank the women for their service and commitment to the Defence Forces as a whole. The future Defence Forces will be a place where inappropriate behaviour is not allowed and where all persons, male and female, can attain their full potential.”
After meeting with Mr Coveney, retired army captain Diane Byrne demanded an apology from the Women of Honour.
She stated the Minister apologised to the women today and promised to do it again at a later date.
“It’s vital,” she remarked before the meeting. We’ve all had different experiences throughout the years, and for that to be pushed under the rug now is absurd — no change will occur unless there is an acknowledgement of what has happened, and an apology is required.
“But getting the acknowledgement and apology is critical for us to go ahead. It’s about changing things for men and women now and in the future.
My family is military, and I want to be in a situation where my son and daughter may join the defence forces, and I can be happy and confident that they will be successful in their endeavours.
After serving for 13 years in the permanent defence forces, Ms Byrne, who was the first female engineer in the military’s history, admitted that the experience had been “very lonely.”
“Being able to come together as a strong group of women standing up and finally expressing, loudly, the concerns that we believe need to be addressed is tremendously empowering for us,” she continued.
In contrast to another military throughout the world, this one requires a totally external and impartial evaluation, as opposed to a review conducted inside. We’re working really hard to see if we can finally achieve the change that we’ve been fighting for on our own for so many years.”