Support service handling sex abuse allegations in Defence Forces meets complainants

Retired sergeant Anthony O’Brien compiled allegations from former military personnel

A support service assigned to handle allegations of abuse within the Defences Forces has begun meeting complainants.

Last week, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney announced the appointment of a Confidential Contact Person (CCP) to receive allegations raised by former and serving military personnel.

The service provides guidance and support to whistleblowers by helping them to document their allegations. It can also advise them on what steps to take next.

Many of these allegations were raised in the recent RTÉ documentary Women of Honour, which detailed incidents of rape and sexual assault, as well as discrimination and harassment, of female soldiers, sailors and air personnel.

Other allegations were raised earlier in the year by retired Army sergeant Anthony O’Brien. Mr O’Brien has compiled a large number of allegations of abuse from former military personnel, as well as allegations that children were abused in the family quarters of Army barracks.

The allegations are mainly historical and most related to the Curragh Camp. Mr O’Brien alleges he himself was sexually assaulted by a senior officer.


Last Thursday, Mr O'Brien met the CCP, who is an employee of the firm Raiseaconcern, a private company employed by private and public bodies to investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

The former sergeant said he detailed the allegations and handed over related documents to the CCP. The initial meeting was informal and Mr O’Brien is expected to meet the CCP again in a number of weeks to make a formal statement.

Mr O’Brien told The Irish Times he informed the CCP that many of the alleged victims detailed in the documents that he handed over are unlikely to want to be interviewed.

The CCP is also expected to meet a number of the women who have made allegations of abuse, bullying and harassment within the Defence Forces and to provide Mr Coveney with regular updates on the cases being reported, strictly on an anonymised basis.

Independent review

This information will be used to structure a separate independent review process to examine how abuse allegations are dealt with by the Defence Forces and Department of Defence. The review is expected to begin before the end of the year.

The review was first proposed by Department of Defence General Secretary Jacqui McCrum in June following publication of Mr O’Brien’s allegations.

Last Wednesday, President Michael D Higgins, who is commander in chief of the Defence Forces, expressed his support and admiration for the Women of Honour.

“It is vitally important that our Defence Forces be inclusive places for men and women, workplaces which accord to each and every member the dignity and respect that defines a truly ethical workplace, and that enables them to have the confidence to know that their talents and contribution are recognised and that false barriers are not erected on the basis of any perceived differences,” he said.

*This article was amended on October 11th to clarify the role of the Confidential Contact Person.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times