Sexual assault allegations ‘painful’ to hear, say Defence Forces officers

Representative Association for Commissioned Officers’ (Raco) to explore joining Ictu

The allegations of sexual assault and gender-based harassment of women in the Defence Forces ‘has necessitated a great degree of soul searching’ for commissioned officers. File photograph: Alan Betson

The allegations of sexual assault and gender-based harassment of women in the Defence Forces ‘has necessitated a great degree of soul searching’ for commissioned officers. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The allegations of sexual assault and gender-based harassment of women in the Defence Forces was “painful” to listen to and “has necessitated a great degree of soul searching” for commissioned officers across the forces, its representative association has said.

Members of the Representative Association for Commissioned Officers’ (Raco) have also decided the association should immediately explore the benefits of joining the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).

Raco general secretary Conor King said the recent RTÉ Radio 1 documentary Women of Honour, about allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the Defence Forces, was discussed during Monday’s closed session at the association’s delegate conference in Co Kildare.

Raco also remained “fully committed” to the Defence Forces dignity charter, adding it welcomed “the initial steps that the Defence organisation has taken” following the documentary.

Raco has urged Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to retain the independent monitoring group, which has reviewed developments in the Defence Forces for 20 years.

Delegates on Monday voted unanimously to direct its national executive “to explore the potential benefits of association with ICTU, with a view to a possible future ballot of members”.

Raco, which represents about 1,200 Army, Naval Service and Air Corps officers, said the current system for dealing with industrial relations matters in the Defence Forces, the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme, was “failing”.