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women of honour Sinn Féin to table private members' motion for investigation into Defence Forces abuse allegations

The alleged sexual and physical assault occurred in a Dublin barracks on the same day as an outdoor party with alcohol was held during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin will next week table a motion calling for a Commission of Investigation to be established surrounding the allegations of sexual and physical assault against female members of The Defence Forces.

Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane said the party will bring forward a private members’ motion demanding the commission be set up in the wake of fresh allegations of sexual abuse within the Defence Forces. Ms Kerrane said the motion is being brought forward as Sinn Féin believe “the minister is failing” in his duty to hear the complaints.

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed that the Defence Forces is investigating the alleged sexual assault of a female soldier by a male Army officer in June 2020.

The alleged sexual and physical assault occurred in a Dublin barracks on the same day as an outdoor party with alcohol was held during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Military Police investigated and have filed a full report to the Director of Military Prosecutions and a court martial is expected in the coming months.

“These are really serious allegations and they’re not historic, either. The women feel they are not being heard in relation to this. If we are bringing a review forward that the Women of Honour have no confidence in and aren’t willing to participate in then that’s not the route to take,” Ms Kerrane told Saturday with Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio.

This comes as the Government comes under pressure to investigate abuse, sexual assault and harassment of female military members. A number of Opposition politicians have written to the Taoiseach calling for him to instruct Defence Minister Simon Coveney to set up a fully independent commission.

The Women of Honour, a group of women representing female members of the Defence Forces alleging abuse, have been calling for a public statutory investigation to be held rather than a judge-led review which they say is “flawed and entirely unfit for purpose”.

The Women of Honour met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Monday and he informed them the review will go ahead as is.

“Whilst he is not ruling out a statutory inquiry it is unclear if or when any decision will be made on this and whether it is dependent on the outcome of the review.

“It is our view that Minister Coveney is conflicted in this matter of investigating the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence. Mr Coveney has been Minister for Defence in six of the last nine years when many of the serious offences took place in the Forces. But he has never intervened until the RTÉ documentary,” a statement from the Women of Honour read this week.

“We believe only a statutory inquiry will get to the heart of the matters involved and we explained to the Taoiseach that another review, however well-intentioned by Government, would not get to the heart of the toxic culture in the Defence Forces.

“If the issues that we have raised are not considered serious enough to merit a full statutory inquiry it is hard to understand what is,” the group said.

The group have shone a light on numerous alleged instances of bullying, sexual and physical abuse against female members of the Defence Forces.

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