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Women of Honour group say they were ‘disrespected’ in meeting with Simon Coveney yesterday

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Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne, as they arrived for the meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney at Iveagh House, in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne, as they arrived for the meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney at Iveagh House, in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Members of Women of Honour, Karina Molloy, Honor Murphy, Yvonne O'Rourke and Diane Byrne, as they arrived for the meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney at Iveagh House, in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The Women of Honour group have said they were “disrespected” by Defence and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in their meeting yesterday.

The group, which represents female former members of the military who allege they were subjected to ongoing abuse, sexual assault and harassment by male colleagues walked out of a meeting with the Minister yesterday.

In a statement issued today, the group said they will now meet with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin next week following Coveney’s “mishandling” of the issue.

The group accused the Minister of “whitewashing” during the meeting.

“The circumstances of Women of Honour and countless other serving and former members of the Defence Forces involve issues surrounding dignity in the workplace, bullying, harassment, discrimination, assault, sexual harassment and sexual assault,” the statement said.

“These issues remain in the Defence Forces and are still unfortunately real and live. That is why we are so devastated by Minister’s Coveney’s attempt at white washing.”

It comes as the Government announced that it will establish a judge-led independent review to look at issues related to sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment and discrimination in the Defence Forces.

Allegations of sexism, bullying, sexual assault and rape in the Defence Forces were uncovered in an RTÉ radio documentary by Katie Hannon last year.

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The statement added: “The issues require a legal process not a review. A one-year-long administrative review does not have the statutory protection required for such sensitive investigations to be effective and is just kicking the can down the road of pointlessness.

“The group appointed do not have the tools to compel attendance by witnesses or documents. Disgracefully, Minister Coveney arrived to the meeting yesterday with terms of reference that had the words final stamped all over them. He then tried to stamp all over us.”

“The members of the group were also a fait accompli yesterday. No input or questioning was allowed by us, and the understanding had always been that a process would be established first and then the terms of reference would be considered. The Minister has blackguarded and disrespected us given the nature of our personal disclosures.”


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