Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence, Sorca Clarke TD, has urged the Minister for Defence to do the right thing and commit to establishing a commission of investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the Defence Forces.
Her comments follow a meeting between Minister Coveney and the Women of Honour group this afternoon.
Teachta Clarke said:
“At his meeting with the Women of Honour group this afternoon, Minister Coveney has insisted he will continue with his decision to conduct a review into these serious allegations.
“As the Women of Honour have made clear, this is unacceptable and fails to take into account the seriousness of the issue.
“A full commission of investigation, with the power to compel witnesses, is necessary. I share the women’s frustration and their concerns that a review risks amounting to a whitewash. I am concerned that Minister Coveney’s approach here is yet another way in which these women are being failed.
“I want to again commend the women for their bravery in coming forward and their courage in pursuing justice. Their determination and tireless efforts in advocating for their right to be heard have forced the government to finally act, but it is not acceptable that the government’s actions are still falling far short of what is needed.
“Sexual violence, harassment and bullying are never acceptable and these allegations are of the utmost seriousness. The government has a duty to act and to establish what has happened.
“The Government’s expression of gratitude will no doubt ring hollow to these women who have had such horrendous experiences.
“It is not too late for the Minister to do the right thing here and ensure appropriate mechanisms are put in place. I am once again urging him to act and establish a commission of investigation. It is vital that survivors can have confidence in the government’s approach and processes. The mechanisms must be robust, transparent and meet survivors’ needs.”