Irish Examiner view: Defence Forces now need accountability and swift action

The Women of Honour group has been withering in its dismissal of the damning Independent Review Group report  
Irish Examiner view: Defence Forces now need accountability and swift action

Compounding the issues raised in yesterday's damning report is the recruitment crisis in the Defence Forces. Stock picture: Leon Farrell/RollingNews

Defence Forces abuse claims

The fact that a review group report was published yesterday on allegations of abuse in the Defence Forces is dispiriting enough.

Allegations of rape, sexual assault, bullying, and sexism are depressing in and of themselves, but the report underlined the fact that this is not a culture confined to the less enlightened environment of decades past, but the current working culture of the Defence Forces. Yesterday’s report outlined a high level of distrust in leadership, a lack of faith in complaints procedures and, ultimately, an unsafe working environment.

Revelations from the Women of Honour group, which is made up of serving and ex-serving women in the Defence Forces, led to the establishment of the review group which published yesterday’s report. 

The group has been withering in its dismissal of the report, calling instead for “actionable accountability”, and for the head of the Defence Forces to make an example of those responsible for the abuse.

To complicate matters further, there is an ongoing crisis in recruitment facing the Defence Forces as reported in this newspaper. Matters such as inadequate pay, pensions, and conditions are driving personnel out of the army, air corps, and navy, personnel who are not being replaced.

Consequently, this news could hardly come at a worse time. It suggests that the Defence Forces are undergoing an existential crisis. If a significant proportion of their own members feel they are not being defended, how can the Defence Forces be fit for purpose?

Accountability is certainly needed. And swift action.

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