President Michael D Higgins has said he felt a "sense of shame" on reading the report from the Independent Review Group into abuse in the Defence Forces and fears the behaviour highlighted is being replicated elsewhere.
The report, published on Tuesday, found 88% of female respondents said they had experienced one or more forms of sexual harassment.
It found the main perpetrators of misogynistic behaviour were male officers or senior NCOs, but it also came from male peers and sometimes female officers/senior NCOs.
In a strongly worded statement on Friday, President Higgins, who is the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, said the bullying described in the report was some of the most serious imaginable, and there could be "no continuation of any of this deeply unacceptable, indeed criminal, behaviour."
He wrote: "They include behaviour leading to suicides, serious physical assaults, very serious sexual assaults including rapes, and the sexual targeting of new entrants."
“It is with a sense of shame but also so much hurt for those serving women and men who had dedicated their lives to serving our country and to working as international peacekeepers and who have been abused while serving as members of the Defence Forces, that I read the report of the Independent Review Group."
"What has been revealed in this report, a report made possible by the coming forward of some of the bravest of the brave to have served our country, was not a simple set of random occurrences. It is explicitly stated in the report that there is a continuing systemic problem of incidents of bullying, harassment, discrimination and sexual harassment within the Defence Forces.
"This must be of the deepest concern to us all, including those in the Defence Forces who are anxious to serve their country to the best of their abilities and so many who are doing so at home and abroad."
He added he was left with “the greatest anxiety” that the institutional failure described in the report was “far from confined to the Defence Forces” and that in many cases, there were urgent lessons to be drawn and transformations to be made across society and in many institutions.
The President said he recognised in particular the contribution of the Women of Honour and the Men and Women of Honour.
The IRG was set up by the Government in 2021 on foot of allegations from the Women of Honour group
Welcoming the Government's review, President Higgins concluded: "We must all support every effort at such reform as will give us a truly human institutional profile, one built on dignity and a respect for both vulnerability and excellence. That is the true test of institutional effectiveness.”