Sinn Féin call for commission of investigation into Women of Honour allegations

ireland
Sinn Féin Call For Commission Of Investigation Into Women Of Honour Allegations Sinn Féin Call For Commission Of Investigation Into Women Of Honour Allegations
It comes after the Women of Honour Group expressed disappointment following a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: PA Images
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Sinn Féin are set to bring forward a motion calling for commission of investigation into Women of Honour’s allegations.

It comes after the Women of Honour Group expressed disappointment following a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin where he confirmed a review into allegations of misconduct in the Defence Forces will go ahead rather than a statutory inquiry.

Allegations of sexism, bullying, sexual assault and rape in the Defence Forces were uncovered in an RTÉ documentary last year.

Two weeks ago, the Women of Honour group walked out early from a meeting with Minister for Defence Simon Coveney, who they accused of whitewashing the issue.

Most recently, it was revealed that an Army officer is being investigated for allegedly trying to grope a female solider at McKee Barracks.

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Women of Honour said the investigation emphasises why a statutory inquiry into the handling of cases of abuse in the Defence Forces is necessary.

“The weak review proposed by Minister Coveney will be ineffective and powerless to get to the real heart of the issues,” the group said in a statement.

“It is time for an independent public statutory inquiry and for the civil and criminal laws of the state to be applied to the Defence Forces.

“The national laws that apply to the rest of the citizens of our State should apply to the men and women of our Defence Forces.”

'Of the utmost seriousness'

Sinn Féin's Private Member’s Bill on a commission of investigation will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.

“This week, Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion in the Dáil calling for a commission of investigation to be established into allegations by the Women of Honour,” said Sinn Féin spokesperson on defence, Sorca Clarke.

“These allegations are of the utmost seriousness. Women have bravely come forward to tell their difficult and distressing stories of bullying, harassment, sexual assault and rape.

“I want to commend the bravery and determination of these women in their pursuit of truth and justice.

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“Minister Coveney has totally failed to appreciate the seriousness of these allegations and is insisting on conducting a mere internal review. This is totally inadequate and unacceptable.

“Survivors have outlined repeatedly to the Minister why they need to see a commission of investigation established, yet he is failing to listen.

“Sinn Féin stands with the Women of Honour and their right to justice. Nothing less than a commission of investigation will be accepted.

“Women in the Defence Forces show exceptional bravery every day in going on missions to keep others safe, yet the State has failed to prioritise their own safety. They have been utterly failed.

“Survivors have told me they feel that their abuse did not stop when the incident stopped but instead has been compounded by systems and power structures which have re-victimised and re-traumatised them.

“It is imperative that a commission of investigation examines the culture in the Defence Forces and ensures much-needed change is enacted. This is about ensuring dignity, safety and accountability in the Defence Forces.

“It is not too late for Minister Coveney to do the right thing here. He can and must establish a commission of investigation.

“I am urging all TDs to back Sinn Féin’s motion in the Dáil and ensure the Women of Honour get justice.”

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