March 10, 2021
Sexual abuse claims in the Defence Forces must be investigated – Sorca Clarke TD

Sinn Féin Junior spokesperson on Defence Sorca Clarke TD has called on Minister Simon Coveney to take action to address the allegations of sexual abuse within the Defence Forces. 

Teachta Clarke said:

“The allegations of sexual violence connected to the Defence Forces are extremely concerning. I am calling on Minister Coveney to set up an inquiry into these accusations, to identify whether structural and institutional failures took place and to ensure they are never repeated. 

“Survivors of abuse deserve our respect and admiration. When they come forward they deserve to be believed and supported. We must send the strong and clear message that sexual violence and abuse is never ok.

“Abuse can cause long lasting and serious consequences for survivors’ emotional and mental health. Survivors need sensitive, appropriate support for dealing with trauma and other effects of this horrendous crime.

“It took a Study Review Group under Dr. Eileen Doyle in the early 2000s in order to act on the revelations brought to light by Captain Tom Clonan of abuse of female members and we may need a similar body to deal with these allegations now. 

“Of particular concern are the allegations made by a number of soldiers about how they were often provided with psychological care for the trauma caused by their attacks only for that then to be used as a reason to dismiss them on medical grounds. This fits in to a pattern of victim-blaming in the accusations whereby the person who reported the crime was punished in some way or another by their superiors. 

“Nobody should feel afraid to avail of psychological care, especially not those who suffered abuse and need it the most. Some of these men were below the age of consent at the time of allegations and the Defence Forces had a duty of care to these young people. 

“I would urge anybody who has suffered sexual abuse not to suffer alone. Groups such as the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), One in Four and the Rape Crisis Helpline can provide valuable care and support. Anyone with information about these allegations should contact the Gardaí.

“I will continue to engage with Minister Coveney and the Department on this to ensure it remains on the agenda. These serious allegations must not be brushed under the carpet.”

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