Tanaiste must push for change within Defence Forces

Senator Mark Wall
03 February 2023

Labour defence spokesperson Mark Wall has called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence to act fast to stamp out bully, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination within the Defence Forces.

As the Tánaiste considers the Independent Review Group’s report on Dignity and Equality Issues, Senator Wall said women within the Force must feel fully empowered and supported to report any incidences of harassment that occur.

Senator Wall said:

“A root and branch review of issues within the Forces was desperately needed to ensure the experiences described by the Women of Honour documentary never happen to another woman or member of the Forces.

“We must ensure that this review has a lasting impact, that it changes things within the Forces and fosters a culture of dignity and respect, like any workplace.

“Recruitment and retention has long been an issue within the Forces, but particularly the recruitment of women. Just 44 women joined the Defence Forces in 2021, this is really disappointing. Labour is calling on government to publish a strategy to encourage women into the Force in tandem with the results of the Dignity and Equality Issues report.

“The Commission on the Defence Forces recommended that government set a target of at least 35% women participation, yet Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are failing fast on delivering that target.

“I think everyone in the country was stopped in their tracks hearing RTÉ’s Katie Hannon’s documentary in 2021. It’s deeply troubling to learn of the breadth of incidences and the total lack of support women in the Defence Forces experienced. There must be urgent implementation of safeguards for women within the Forces and I would urge the Tánaiste not to delay in acting on change within the Defence Forces.”

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