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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Sam Boal/
# women of honour
Women of Honour concerned about role of Department of Defence in new abuse Oversight Board
The whistleblower group has asked Tánaiste Micheál Martin to consider listening to them on the setup of a truly impartial Board.

THE WOMEN OF Honour group has said it is unhappy with the proposed involvement of the Department of Defence in the new independent oversight board for the Defence Forces.

The group has taken issue with the involvement of the Department of Defence in the new independent oversight board for the Defence Forces.

A statement from the group today said that it will be seeking for those appointed to an independent oversight board for the Defence forces “to be vetted for appropriateness by the Oireachtas Defence Committee.”

The statement was also critical of Tánaiste Micheál Martin over his handling of the setup of the new Board after he this week circulated draft terms of reference for a statutory inquiry into allegations of harassment and abuse in the Irish Defence Forces.

The statement said that the group asked the Tánaiste about the oversight body when they met with him on Tuesday, but “no satisfactory answers” were given.

An inquiry was announced after the publication of the Independent Review Group (IRG) report on abuse allegations which was published recently. It found that cases of bullying, harassment, discrimination and sexual harassment continue to persist within the Defence Forces.

The Women of Honour statement said: “The IRG was done on the narrowest of grounds and never looked at the Department of Defence.”

All the members of the Oversight Board should be vetted to see how they managed bullying and other abuses rampant in the Defence Forces in their own leadership roles.

“Such vetting would normally be done by the Public Appointments Service but no such scrutiny or transparency has been allowed by the Tánaiste.

After Tuesday’s meeting, we remain concerned that the Tánaiste cannot separate himself from the role of Minister for Defence.

“We will be raising this with the Taoiseach when we see him shortly following contact from his office.”

The group said they were dissatisfied with how senior figures handled the terms of reference of the Independent Review Group in the past and they asked the Tánaiste not to allow this happen again.

“A statutory oversight body after a Tribunal is the only route to go but the Department of Defence appears to be calling all the shots for Minister Martin.

“We will be raising this with the Taoiseach and asking him to take the Department of Defence out of the liaison with victims, out of the establishment of the Tribunal and out of the Oversight Board. It is not appropriate, insensitive and like having the fox in the chicken coop.

“We don’t think the Taoiseach would have tolerated the Bishops Conference being the secretariat to investigations into the church.”

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