Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the Terms of Reference for the Tribunal of Inquiry into abuse allegations within the Defence Forces must be amended to address the concerns of the Women of Honour group.
While agreement was finally reached in July that a Tribunal of Inquiry would be established, negotiations have been ongoing as to the nature and scope of such an inquiry.
Teachta Carthy also described the reference by the Tánaiste to the groups requests as potentially including “trips, slips and falls” as “highly insensitive”. He called for the remarks to be withdrawn.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Were it not for the work of the Women of Honour group there would not have been an independent review group or any type of inquiry or tribunal. The public likely would not even be aware of most of these issues.
“It is therefore inconceivable that there would be any further process that did not have the group’s full support and endorsement.
“The government has an opportunity to ensure that this Tribunal of Inquiry rebuilds confidence in the Defence Forces and plays a role in redressing the retention and recruitment crisis that they have overseen.
“Rather than seizing this opportunity, government appear to be squandering it. Correspondence from the Tánaiste published by the Women of Honour Group yesterday evening indicate that opportunity is being squandered.
“The correspondence from the Tánaiste to the Women of Honour representatives that flippantly suggested that the inclusion of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 could open the door to ‘trips, slips and falls’ are highly insensitive.
“Any comparison to the outrageous handling of crimes brought to light by the Women of Honour group, perceived, unintended, unintentional or otherwise must be immediately withdrawn.
“Government must re-engage with the Women of Honour group to restore confidence and to ensure the establishment of a Tribunal of Inquiry that wholly and adequately examine these matters.
“Failing this, Sinn Féin will, when the motion to establish the Tribunal of Inquiry comes before the Dáil, seek to amend this deficient text and deliver the justice that these men and women deserve.”