Friday 18 October 2019

Investigation as 'spyhole' found in Navy's female changing room

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Military police are investigating the discovery of a hole in the wall of a women's changing area at the country's Navy headquarters.

A female member of the Navy Service is understood to have raised concerns with senior officers when she found what has been described as a "spyhole" in the changing area.

The discovery has led to a full-scale investigation by military officers with a number of Navy Service personnel based on Haulbowline Island in Cork questioned.

Military police also dusted the area around the hole in the wall for fingerprints in an attempt to identify its origins.

To date, it has not been established if the hole was purposely made in the wall, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The discovery in women's changing areas was first made on April 12 this year and was immediately reported.

Later that afternoon an investigation was launched by military authorities.

A Defence Forces spokesperson said the reported incident was being treated seriously by authorities.

"Oglaigh na hEireann treat incidents of this nature with the utmost seriousness and a thorough and detailed military police investigation was launched immediately on receipt of the initial complaint," he said.

"To date, a number of personnel have been questioned but as the case is still currently open, the specific details cannot be disclosed at this time," he added.

In a parliamentary question, Independent TD Clare Daly asked the length of time it took to launch the investigation into the discovery of a "spyhole in a female shower area in the central supply area of the Naval Service".

She also asked the reason for "delays in commencing an investigation" and "the outcome of the investigation".

In response, Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe said: "The military authorities have informed me that an investigation was initiated on the afternoon of April 12, 2018 following the discovery, earlier that day, of a drilled hole in a female changing area on the Naval Base.

"I have requested further information on the investigation and will revert to the deputy as soon as possible," he added.

In July, Ms Daly asked if Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's "attention has been drawn to issues with regard to sexual harassment within the Naval Service and/or allegations of a culture of impunity in regard to sexual harassment therein".

The Department of Defence said all military personnel have the "right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity and the right to carry out their duties free from any form of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment or bullying".

It added: "All known incidents of inappropriate behaviour are properly investigated bearing in mind the need for due process which requires fairness to all parties to the complaint."

The Irish Naval Service has more than 1,000 personnel and operates eight military vessels.

The navy is tasked with maritime defence, fishery protection, contraband interception and the enforcement of EU rules.

The Naval Service has also played a key role in the Europe-wide crackdown on migrant smuggling by gangs.

Sunday Independent

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