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Press Release - Terms of Independent Review into harassment and bullying

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  • Press Release - Terms of Independent Review into harassment and bullying

    Press Release - Terms of Independent Review into harassment and bullying to be finalised this week

    From Department of Defence

    Published on 13 September 2021

    Last updated on 13 September 2021


    The Minister would like to express concern for the welfare of the women who have recounted their experiences on the Women of Honour programme on RTE Radio on the 11th of Sept, and express significant concern about the allegations made.



    All members of the Defence Forces have a right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity and to carry out their duties free from any form of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying.



    The Minister receives information on such matters both formally by way of regular reports from the Chief of Staff and by correspondence provided to him in a confidential manner by individuals who wished to have their identity protected. The Minister has a statutory duty to comply with that wish. It would be inappropriate for him to discuss individual cases, as it would be in relation to those cases which are within an independent adjudication process.



    The Minister was aware of some of the complaints profiled in the programme, but not the specific details of all. Senior officials have personally met and interacted with some of the people who were profiled on the programme, to facilitate them in bringing their complaints forward for investigation to the appropriate competent authority, An Garda Síochána.



    Minister Coveney is committed to meeting with the women profiled, should they wish to do so and will be taking steps to make contact.



    The Minister and the Defence Organisation is committed to providing a safe place of work for all employees. This is done by putting in place processes and procedures developed with professional guidance and reflecting best practice. These processes and procedures educate personnel, facilitate formal and informal complaint procedures and provide support for those affected. The criminal prosecution of those responsible for serious offences also plays a part in highlighting the unacceptable nature of such behaviour and provides for due process and fair procedures.



    Reforms have been introduced, but it is recognised that further work needs to be done. These reforms continue to be developed and actioned. A number of specific actions have been in progress over the past few months with a view to shaping future reforms.



    In light of the programme, the Minister will ask for the content of the programme to be reviewed and that these planned actions be assessed to ensure that they address fully all issues raised.
    • Actions planned



    • Discussions are at an advanced stage on the establishment of an independent review. The purpose of this independent review is to examine current policies and procedures dealing with workplace issues such as dignity, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination. Terms and suggested nominees are at an advanced discussion stage and these will be formalised this week. As outlined the terms will be reviewed in light of the programme to ensure that issues raised are encompassed.

    • In recent months, the Minister has been in receipt of correspondence - primarily from one source – outlining a number of allegations, including sexual assault allegations of a historical nature. The allegations relate to events said to have occurred within the Permanent Defence Force.

    • An additional specific independently led assessment of actions taken to date and whether any other actions should be adopted is also being established in relation to this specific issue.

    • The Commission on Defence Forces established in December 2020, is due to report by end December 2021 and their views will also be an important aid to this independently chaired group.

    gov.ie - Press Release - Terms of Independent Review into harassment and bullying to be finalised this week (www.gov.ie)
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