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Sam Boal/
terms of reference

Coveney and Women of Honour to meet again next month to agree terms of Defence Forces review

The Defence Minister met today with the women, who allege bullying and sexual harassment within the Defence Forces.

DEFENCE MINISTER SIMON Coveney has said the draft terms of a review into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying in the Defence Forces have been reshaped following feedback from campaigners. 

Coveney met with members of the Women of Honour group and their solicitor this afternoon, who have made allegations of bullying, harassment, sexual assault and rape within the Defence Forces.

It came about following disapproval from the campaigners over the terms of reference for the review into the incidents. 

Following today’s meeting, Coveney said they will again in January to “finalise a way forward” for the independent review. 

Coveney said his department had circulated the draft terms of reference to all interested parties on October 21: “We have received feedback from a number of parties which have since shaped the terms of reference.”

He added that he has spoken with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in recent days and is satisfied that his course of action is appropriate and thorough.

“My department has also heard this week confidentially from former and serving members, both male and female, who are satisfied with the department’s actions to date and who want to see an independent review without delay,” he said. 

“Following a good discussion with the group at today’s meeting, we both have agreed to meet again in early January to try finalise a way forward.”

The Cork TD’s position was welcomed by the Women of Honour group, which issued a statement this evening.

“We pointed out to him that our position remains that no meaningful change for current or future generations can be achieved without a full understanding of the failings that led us here and these failings can only be identified by a thorough investigation.

“The objectives of Women of Honour are to achieve a full, comprehensive and purposeful process which will see a detailed understanding of how these failings came about.”

The group said it believes this will lead to meaningful action, “breaking the vicious cycle” and deterring further harassment in future.  

“This would bring some sense of peace to the many who are suffering so greatly.”

Coveney said a key concern for him, and an objective of the review, will be to assess systems, structures and the culture within the Defence Forces to ensure a safe workplace for all.

“As Minister for Defence, I and the Department, have a duty of care to all those who serve our state, male and female, including almost 600 current female members of the permanent Defence Forces.”

He urged that anyone with allegations or evidence of abuse to confidentially contact the Garda National Protective Services Bureau or to call 01-6663423.

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