Mayo senator calls for independent probe into serious allegations against Defence Forces

A Mayo Oireachtas member has called for a fully independent inquiry into all the allegations and the culture in the Defence Forces exposed by the journalist Katie Hannon's documentary "Women of Honour" broadcast by RTÉ Radio One on September 11 last.

Senator Lisa Chambers said it was with shock and horror that we listened to the accounts of the women involved.

She elaborated: "They were former serving members of the Irish Defence Forces.

"They spoke about horrific ordeals including sexual assaults, discrimination, rapes and many other injustices they suffered when they were serving members of the Irish Defence Forces.

"These were perpetrated by other members of the Defence Forces.

"It was even worse to hear how they were treated subsequently when they raised those issues with their commanding officers and tried to bring them up the line of command.

"Their words fell on deaf ears. There were too many instances to be considered one-offs or rarities.

"Unfortunately, it seems to have been quite common, particularly in the early years when women first joined the Defence Forces.

"As a former member, who spent 13 years in the Reserve Defence Force, I can attest to there being quite a macho culture within the organisation but I was still extremely shocked to hear what those women had been through.

"We have to listen to the victims and we have to frame our response by taking into account what they are looking for in terms of redress and a resolution to this.

"What we cannot have is the Defence Forces or the Department of Defence investigating themselves.

"There must be a fully independent inquiry into all the allegations and the culture in the Defence Forces, with a view to stamping out and eradicating that culture and providing closure, compensation and resolution to the victims.

"I also take on board that these women have the full support of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the National Women's Council of Ireland for that independent review, one where they are fully involved in choosing how it takes place.

"I are seeking confirmation that the government will initiate, through the Department of Defence, a fully independent review in consultation with the women of honour," she added.