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Defence | Eradication of gender-based abuse in the Defence Forces

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence the extent to which gender-based abuse has been fully eradicated at all levels of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Judge-led Independent Review Group, established last January by Government, is examining the systems, policies and procedures for dealing with issues relating to bullying, discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the Defence Forces as well as the prevailing workplace culture. 

I wish to commend the courage of serving members, the Women of Honour group and the Men and Women of Honour group, who have shared their experiences of unacceptable behaviour in the Defence Forces. It was clear that there was a very critical and immediate need to address the prevailing work culture, including issues relating to the current systems, policies and procedures for dealing with unacceptable behaviour in the Defence Forces.

The primary objective of all concerned, at the outset, was to acknowledge issues in the current workplace and to establish a course of action that would address that. The Independent Review Group has undertaken this work in the past 12 months. Many stakeholders, including serving members, have lent their support to the Independent Review Group.

In accordance with the Terms of Reference, the Group will provide a Final Report with their findings to me within a year. I understand the Group are nearing the conclusion on the report and it will be submitted to me later this week which I will consider in full, in consultation with the Attorney General. I wish to reiterate that the Final Report will be brought to Government, before being published. 

The government  has  have at all times been very clear that it  would await this comprehensive report and that any further body of work required was not being ruled out.

I don’t wish to pre-empt the recommendations in the Report, but it is my intention to ensure they are all fulfilled. In November 2021, the Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy convened the Organisational Culture Standing Committee (OCSC) to drive and coordinate the process of cultural change within the Defence Forces.

The OCSC will provide appropriate military support to the Independent Review and establish a cultural change programme.

The Deputy will also be aware that  interim support measures are available  for members of the Defence Forces impacted by unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.

The appointment of a Confidential Contact Person (CCP) within Raisecaconcern, is available to assist both serving and former members of the Defence Forces and provides a safe place to support the reporting of alleged wrongdoing in the workplace.

The Confidential Contact Person is independent and outside of the chain of command and their role is listen to the caller, assist them in documenting their allegations, and provide guidance on follow-on options.

In addition, the INSPIRE confidential helpline, which is available on a 24/7 basis for all serving members of the Defence Forces, has also been made available to anyone who has contacted the Confidential Contact Person.

The Personnel Support Service (PSS) in the Defence Forces assists members and their immediate family with the provision of information and advice on areas including stress management, counselling and referral options. 

In conclusion, I wish to assure the Deputy of my am full commitment to ensuring that every member of the Defence Forces has the right to undertake their duties in a safe environment underpinned by dignity and equality and by a culture of zero-tolerance for any kind of bullying, discrimination, harassment or sexual abuse. That is an absolute priority.




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