Defence Forces in need of cultural reform, say PDForra and Raco 

Defence Forces in need of cultural reform, say PDForra and Raco 

PDForra president Mark Keane urged Defence Forces members who have experienced sexual assault or harassment to report it to the gardái, military police, or the Rape Crisis Centre.  

The country’s two military representative associations say the Independent Review Group report highlights the need for significant cultural reform in the Defence Forces.

They also praised the bravery of the Women of Honour group who brought sexual assault and harassment issues into the spotlight and said they are fully behind the urgent action needed to prevent such behaviour in the future.

PDForra president Mark Keane, who represents enlisted personnel, said the report highlights "harrowing experiences" some Defence Forces personnel have endured over many years.

“We owe these brave women for what they've done and the report highlights the offence to the dignity of all our members who have a basic entitlement to serve with dignity and pride,” said Mr Keane.

He said PDForra had highlighted several years ago grave failings in the Defence Forces grievance process for such cases.

“We see an urgent need to implement an independent investigation into such complaints, accountability and transparency when dealing with complaints, and greater power and resources for the Defence Forces Ombudsman, who is part time. The report recommendations need to be implemented as soon as practicable." 

Mr Keane urged any Defence Forces member who has experienced such unacceptable behaviour to immediately contact the gardaí, military police, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, or the Samaritans.

Lieutenant Colonel Conor King, general secretary of the officers' association Raco, said it will take some time to go through the entire report.

However, he said, at first look, the findings "are stark and paint a picture of an organisation in need of significant cultural reform".

"With the support and engagement of our members, we will seek to contribute to this reform, while highlighting the need for adequate resources to ensure recommendations are appropriately and effectively implemented," he said. 

The senior officer said it is essential that the positive aspects of military service are not forgotten, while ensuring that the clear shortcomings identified in the report are quickly and decisively dealt with.

Lieut Col King said Raco is acutely conscious of the impact that the report will have on those directly affected by it.

"We are also mindful of the vast majority of members of the Defence Forces who remain steadfast in their commitment to serve the nation, with dignity and pride," he said.

Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Seán Clancy said the report’s findings are “stark”. 

“It is contrary to our ethos and values and will not be tolerated," he said.

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