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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
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'Sadistic violence' in DF: Soldiers put in barrels with animal remains or chemicals for 'hazing'
‘Tubbing’ is one of the hazing process within the Defence Forces described in the report published yesterday.

‘SADISTIC VIOLENCE’ AND ‘predatory behaviour’ are just two terms used in the report into bullying and abuse in the Defence Forces published yesterday. 

‘Tubbing’ is one of the hazing methods within the Defence Forces described in the Independent Review Group’s report.

The long awaited report into bullying and abuse in the Irish Defence Forces detailed a raft of structural failures in the organisation in its treatment of female members and in how it responds to allegations of bullying, harassment and abuse.

‘Tubbing’ refers to the placing of an individual in a barrel, which may contain any combination of chemicals, oil, airplane fuel, deceased animal carcasses, or other substances, for the purposes of hazing or punishment, according to the report.

Some examples of ‘tubbing’ were given to the review group, as well as ’mobbing’ which is another form of abuse used against officers. 

The term is used when a situation becomes escalated to an overblown and serious magnitude, such that the complainant of the minor conflict becomes a victim of systemic personal attacks and isolation at the hands of either a group or an individual in authority.

“The purpose of this is to ultimately isolate the individual and to make life so difficult that they resign their post, as it is no longer tenable,” the report found. 

These incidents happened when people tried to raise issues, and as a result were targeted by management, ultimately being removed from their employment in some cases. 

“Mobbing has been described in detail by participants as being a particularly dangerous and completely unacceptable form of bullying,” found the report. 

Graphic descriptions of alleged physical assault have also been detailed in the report.

Women described being subject to weekly punishment particularly when on career development or promotional courses. They then described being subjected to weekly punishment from their male colleagues, due to their gender, in terms of physical and mental torture.

Graphic details of very severe alleged physical assaults were presented to the review group, the report stated. 

According to the report: “These have occurred over the last 40 years, and continue to the present day.”

The report lists a number of targeted incidents, including:

  • The training including violence
  • Being kicked while exercising
  • Being kicked in the stomach while doing sit-ups
  • Being punched in the stomach while parading
  • Being kicked in the groin
  • Being targeted with sadistic violence for officers’ perceived pleasure
  • Danger of physical assault to male and female members in shower facilities

Testimonies state that sexual assaults took place on naval boats, in swimming areas, at shower facilities and while soldiers were abroad on tours.

In addition, the review found that female members of the Defence Forces were advised to maintain two locks on their cabin or bedroom doors if there had been an attempt to assault or forcibly enter their sleeping quarters in the past.

Interviewees reported barricading of quarters to prevent sexual assault and the grooming of younger recruits by senior officers. 

There were also reports of incidents of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) being spiked by various drugs and “predatory behaviour” targeting females in situations where alcohol was present.

Interviewees reported the prevention of members being informed pre-tour about the availability of rape kits because “it creates victims”. A rape kit is a package of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault.

The report also cites incidents of intimate images of female members being taken by surreptitious means, such as with hidden cameras in showers and bathrooms, or pictures taken when female members were inebriated and unable to provide informed consent.

Reacting to the publication of the report, Tanaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin announced the immediate establishment of a new external oversight body of the Defence Forces to deal with the group’s recommendations.

He described the report as “stark” and “harrowing”, and committed to a programme of reform and culture change within the Defence Forces.

“Fundamental change is coming,” he said.

He said the current culture within the Defence Forces “is simply and entirely unacceptable”.

“Today is a very challenging day for our Defence Forces but it can also be a new start

“Any form of sexual misconduct has no place in any workplace in the country,” he said.

The Government signed off on a number of the report’s recommendations, such as the establishment of a statutory inquiry into how complaints have been handled. 

Martin said yesterday that anyone within the Defence Forces that has been the victim of a sexual assault should contact the gardaí. 

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