Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Defence Forces

10:20 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The commission report did not pull any punches in regard to HR management in the Defence Forces. Even though some of the examples that I outlined are very welcome and necessary, in regard to trying to change the culture and approach towards staffing in the Defence Forces, a more fundamental change is needed in terms of culture, particularly towards women and other minorities, in the Defence Forces. Only 7% of our Defence Forces personnel are women. That is not where we need to be. The commission report stated that a target should be set of 35%, or more than one third, of our Defence Forces as women, as well as setting a whole series of recommendations for us in how to achieve that.

Cases of bullying and sexual harassment in the Defence Forces have been exposed very publicly. We need to have zero tolerance of such behaviour, which is totally unacceptable. There is an independent piece of work under way, led by a High Court judge, which will put practical recommendations to me in terms of how we respond to that. Change is happening, which is welcome, but there are problems that need to be addressed in terms of a fundamental cultural change in the Defence Forces. That is also a big part of the commission report. Let us not forget that three chapters of the commission report deal with people and HR. Therefore, it is a significant part of the report and we need to deliver on it.


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