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04 Dec 2021

Kildare politicians question Seanad over alleged army sex abuse

Kildare politicians question Seanad over alleged army sex abuse

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Two prominent politicians from south Kildare raised the allegations made in the ‘Women of Honour’ documentary on sexual assault and harassment in the Defence Forces to the Seanad earlier today.

Senator Fiona O' Loughlin of Fianna Fáil and Minister Martin Heydon of Fine Gael were present during the Seanad motion, which came about after allegations of sex abuse and bullying within the Irish Defence Forces (IDF) came to light last week.

The issue was also talked about extensively by four female members of the IDF, who gave the accounts of the alleged abuse while taking part in a radio documentary commissioned by RTÉ.

It was further elaborated on by former Army captain and whistleblower Tom Clonan, as well as former IDF member Anthony O' Brien.

Senator O' Loughlin told the Seanad that the issues raised in Women Of Honour are nothing new, yet nothing has been done to pursue justice for the survivors.

She further called for a reform of the IDF and referred to the allegations of a cover up within the IDF by senior members of staff made within the programme as being "among the more concerning aspects of this story."

"This review must have the confidence of every member of the Defence Forces, and must be open to public scrutiny," Senator O' Loughlin said.

"The days of quiet back room dealings are over: the review must be transparent, must be public, and must deal with the allegations effectively."

Minister Heydon was present in the Seanad to respond on behalf of the Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: "As recently indicated by Mr Coveney, the review will be conducted by independent and unbiased personnel."

Deputy Heydon also revealed that a meeting will take place this week between some these participants and the secretary general, and senior officials with the Department of Defence.

"Minister Coveney, the government and the defence organisation are committed to providing a safe place to work for all employees," he added.

Also present at the meeting was Fianna Fáil Senator, Lisa Chambers.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call Samaritans Ireland at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie, or you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre by visiting drcc.ie.

Help is always at hand and there is always someone available to listen.

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