Minister Coveney Pledges Women of Honour Issues Will Be Addressed
Minister Coveney pledges to Women of Honour that issues raised will addressed. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence met with participants from the Women of Honour group and with a group of serving female members of the Defence Forces.
Speaking after the meetings, Minister Coveney expressed his gratitude to the women for taking the time to meet with him for what were very informative meetings, saying, “I wish to express my deep appreciation to those women, both serving and former members of the Defence Forces for sharing their experiences with me. The issues they have raised are of the utmost seriousness and need to be addressed in the most comprehensive way possible.”
“It is clear to me, the Chief of Staff Designate and the Secretary General that there are very strong views from both meetings that the culture that is pervading and the application of the current policies, systems and procedures in place for dealing with bullying, harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault have not and are not serving all Defence Forces personnel well. I would like to say sorry to anyone who has suffered during their time in the Defence Forces and assure them The State will now urgently carry out an Independent Review.”
Minister Coveney continued, “let me be quite clear on this. The Independent Review that will be established to examine the effectiveness of those policies and procedures, will be undertaken by external and entirely independent and unbiased experts in this field. It is additionally my intention to bring the final Report from that Review to Government.”
The Minister confirmed that the terms of the Review, which are in the process of being finalised, are being reviewed in light of recent meetings with both the Women of Honour group and serving female personnel. Other stakeholder meetings, including with the Representative Associations will also inform the terms. The Minister has confirmed that he will immediately look to establish interim solutions for supports for Defence Forces members past or present, who are affected by these issues.
The Minister paid tribute to the Women of Honour group and to those serving personnel who have spoken out today, for their service to the Defence Forces, saying, “I wish to commend the women for their service and commitment to the Defence Forces as an Organisation. I know from my discussions today that you are seeking change to ensure that the Defence Forces of the future is a place where inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated and where all individuals, both female and male, can reach their full potential.”
“I am fully committed, together with the Secretary General of my Department, and the Chief of Staff Designate, to ensuring that each and every single member of the Defence Forces has the right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity and to carry out their duties in a safe workplace, underpinned by a culture of zero-tolerance for any kind of bullying, discrimination, or harassment.”