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Army launch probe into claims female recruits were subject of sexual misconduct their superiors

Tthe first alleged incident occurred during the time period when public health restrictions were imposed to combat the spread of Covid 19.
Photo: Stock image

Photo: Stock image

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

THE IRISH army has confirmed it is investigating allegations female training recruits were subjected to inappropriate sexual behaviour by their superiors – following a passing out function held during lock-down.

The investigation is one of two currently being carried out by Military Police into allegations of inappropriate behaviour within the ranks of the Irish Defence Forces during health restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of Covid 19.

The second investigation relates to allegations from a female private that she was the subject of behaviour from a non-commissioned officer that breached guidelines concerning respect and dignity in the workplace.

In a statement, an Army spokeswoman confirmed to the Sunday World: “Oglaigh na h’Eireann are aware of the alleged incidents.

“As they are both the subject of ongoing Military Police investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

In common with armies across the world, the Irish Defence Forces retains the right to police itself under the 1954 Defence Act.

Military police can investigate and charge offenders at court martial.

According to our source, the first alleged incident occurred during the time period when public health restrictions were imposed to combat the spread of Covid 19.

The incident is alleged to have taken place at a Leinster based barracks and occurred following a passing out ceremony.

It is alleged that following the passing out ceremony, an unofficial function was organised at which alcohol was consumed.

Allegations of sexual misconduct towards female recruits in the recruit platoon are understood to have emerged following this function.

Our sources said: “The unit involved should not be allowed train recruits again until the investigations are complete.”

The second investigation concerns an unrelated incident at a separate military facility – which again is understood to have occurred during the context of an unofficial celebration.

It is understood the allegations arising from this gathering relate to issues concerning respect and dignity in the workplace – and do not include a sexual element.

The Defence Forces is currently in the midst of an ongoing review of allegations of sexual misconduct, abuse and assaults on female officers dating back a number of years.

In an RTÉ documentary last September, a group of female Defence Forces veterans, dubbed the ‘Women of Honour’ detailed allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination.

The women's careers suffered as a result while their perpetrators were able to progress up the ranks, they alleged.

A large number of former and serving members of the Defence Forces have come forward with complaints of abuse within the military since the Women of Honour veterans group highlighted the issue last year.

An interim report summarising the complaints was made to Minister for Defence Simon Coveney earlier this year and was to be passed on to a judge-led independent review group which is examining the issue.

The Women of Honour group previously said it is disappointed with the format of the review.

It had sought a statutory investigation which would have the power to compel witnesses to appear.

In February of this year the Defence Forces launched the Defence Forces Victim Booklet.

In a previous statement, an army spokesperson said: “The rationale for this victim information initiative is to support both the victims of a crime and to support commanders at every level in dealing with criminal offences.

“The booklet's primary aim is to ensure that victims of crime will be treated fairly, and with compassion and sensitivity.

“The document highlights to the victim of crime that they can, if they so wish, report the matter/ incident to either the Military Police or An Garda Síochána.”

ENDS


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