We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Government also approved the appointment of Ms Justice Ann Power to Chair the tribunal. Rolling News

Terms of reference for judge-led tribunal into military abuse approved by Cabinet

Government also approved the appointment of Ms Justice Ann Power to Chair the tribunal.


THE TERMS OF reference for a new judge-led tribunal of inquiry into how the Defence Forces handled workplace incidents relating to discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual assault and rape have been approved by Cabinet. 

Government also approved the appointment of Ms Justice Ann Power to Chair the tribunal.

The inquiry follows the report of the Independent Review Group last year which detailed a catalogue of abuse allegations.

At the time, the Tánaiste committed to setting up a statutory inquiry to investigate whether there have been systemic failures in the complaints system within the Defence Forces.

The Women of Honour, a group of former and serving members of the Irish Defence Forces who have highlighted allegations of abuse in the military, have previously criticised the terms of reference. 

The group said that were also unhappy that the investigation will examine the systemic failures but not individual complaints. 

It was announced today that the Tribunal of Inquiry will examine the effectiveness of the complaints processes in the Defence Forces concerning workplace issues relating to discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

It will also have the power to investigate the response to complaints made regarding the use of hazardous chemicals within Air Corps’ headquarters at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

In a statement today, the Women of Honour said they welcome the appointment of Justice Ann Power to chair the tribunal.

“(We) are now focusing on it being a full, comprehensive and transparent tribunal,” they said.

“We have not seen the terms of reference in advance of them going to Cabinet. In fact, we just received the terms of reference from a journalist.

“We have no doubt a tribunal is the mechanism we need for change. We are now going to have to take time to properly assess what these latest terms of reference contained and proceed accordingly.”

Separately, in a further implementation of the IRG’s recommendations, the Tánaiste has announced the appointment of Mr Kevin Duffy as the independent Chair of a new Working Group to develop a complaints process for civilian employees and civil servants who work with the Defence Forces.

The IRG report made 13 significant recommendations and since publication a number of measures introduced include a new bill to give gardaí sole jurisdiction to investigate alleged sexual offences committed within Ireland by personnel subject to military law.

Speaking after today’s Cabinet meeting, the Tánaiste said:

“Government will now seek the approval of the Oireachtas to formally establish the Tribunal, and get work underway as early as possible this year.

“I am particularly grateful to all those who have engaged in the process that led to the drafting of the Terms of Reference, and to the Attorney General and his staff.

“I also want to express my gratitude to Ms Justice Ann Power for agreeing to Chair this very important Tribunal. She brings a wealth of experience to the role.”

He went on to say that the appointment of Kevin Duffy is another important step in implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review Group.

“I am very grateful to Kevin Duffy for agreeing to Chair this Working Group. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role, which I have no doubt will prove invaluable to the Group in its deliberations.”

The Tánaiste will also bring forward legislation to establish an independent external complaints system.

An External Oversight Body has already been established to drive culture change, increase transparency and accountability within the Defence Forces.

Student accommodation

Separately, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has received approval of government policy on student accommodation. 

The policy commits investment in three key areas – the construction of on-campus housing for students, the repurposing of vacant and derelict properties into housing, and the continuation of support for homeowners renting a room to students.

The first phase has been to activate planning permissions already secured by third level universities, with the department stating that it is currently supporting the development of up to 1,000 student beds across DCU, Maynooth University, UL and UG with €61 million in funding approved by government.

The department will now engage with UCD, which has planning permission for 1,254 student beds, Trinity College Dublin, which has permission for 358 beds and the second phase of DCU, which has permission for 830 beds to progress each project.

In return for State investment, universities must offer a certain percentage of the accommodation beds to disadvantaged students at a below market rate.

For example, if the State funds 30% of the beds, those beds must be offered at a reduced rate to students whose household income is less than €100,000.

If the State funds 100% of the beds, all beds must be offered to students at a reduced rate.

The aim is that by rolling out student accommodation projects it will reduce the number of students competing with families for private rental accommodation.

An annual grant of between €20 and €40 million is also to be made available to help universities repurpose buildings which are unoccupied. The size of the grant is dependent on the successful conclusion of capital negotiations.

Roadmap for creative jobs 

Arts Minister Catherine Martin, in association with Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney, also sought Cabinet approval today for a roadmap that seeks to support Ireland’s Digital Creative Industries from 2024 to 2026.

The sectors being targeted include industrial design, product design, visual, communications, user interface/user experience interaction design, service design and strategic design.

Content creation including advertising and branding, commercial social media content, multimedia content for mobile apps and content for emerging immersive technologies  such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) will also be centre to the proposed plan. 

The roadmap seeks to address higher and further education training needs for the sectors and give access to enterprise supports especially for micro-enterprises and SMEs.

Government Chief Whip Hildegarde Naughton also brought the legislative priority list to Cabinet for approval today, which prioritises 24 pieces of legislation, along with the drafting of 22 new laws. The legislative programme will be published later today. 

With reporting by Press Association

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel