Women of Honour says Government response ‘smells of same institutional abuse’

A group representing former and current female members of the Defence Forces has criticised the approach taken by Government to forming draft terms of reference for a statutory inquiry into the military.

Tanaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin committed to a full statutory inquiry into sexual misconduct, bullying and discrimination in the Defence Forces following the recommendations of a report by an independent review group (IRG).

Women Of Honour, which represents female members of the Defence Forces, said it was presented with a draft terms of reference for the inquiry following a meeting with Mr Martin on Tuesday.

It said it was “disappointing” that the Department of Defence had not spoken to victims prior to designing the draft.

“It is disappointing that the Tanaiste and the Department of Defence seek to design draft terms of reference without any consultations with us or any other victims.


“We remain with a feeling that the Government seeks to railroad through us and others without any courtesy or respect.

“It smells of the same institutional abuse as victims endured in the Defence Forces.

“Meetings should have been held to agree a process on terms of reference.

“Nothing less than a full public tribunal to ascertain the truth will work.

“The people of Ireland deserve the truth.”

The group said it will “review” the draft terms of reference.

However, Mr Martin said there would be further consultations with stakeholders on the terms of reference.

He said the draft terms of reference with circulated with Women of Honour and five other groups to “come back with suggestions”.

“We had good meetings relatively lengthy meetings with each group.


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“There’ll be further engagement and further consultation before we firm up on an actual terms of reference.”

The IRG report found a “discernible pattern of rape and sexual assault” in its analysis of participants’ contributions.

On misogyny in the Defence Forces in general, different sources available to the IRG concluded that, at best, the Defence Forces “barely tolerates women” and, at its worst, “verbally, physically, sexually and psychologically abuses women in its ranks”.