Cabinet to consider new terms of reference for tribunal into allegations made by Women of Honour group into Defence Forces

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will also bring new policy on student accommodation to Cabinet

The Cabinet will on Tuesday consider revised terms of reference for a statutory tribunal of inquiry into allegations made by the Women of Honour group into the Defence Forces. Minister for Defence and Tánaiste Micheál Martin will brief Ministers on the plan for the tribunal, which was recommended by the Independent Review Group set up following allegations of discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

Last November draft terms of reference were circulated with survivors, including the Women of Honour group of former Defence Forces members who have been campaigning against sexual abuse in the military. However, the group raised concerns, saying they were “very restrictive” and would not cover cultural issues such as the treatment of victims after they speak out. Following a meeting with the group last year, Mr Martin agreed to reflect on the matter and is now bringing the terms to Cabinet, along with the name of a judge to chair the tribunal.

The tribunal’s office will be based in Dublin 7, and the final report and interim reports will be presented to Mr Martin by the chair. The Tánaiste will also bring forward legislation to establish an independent external complaints system, and an external oversight body which is to be designed to encourage culture change, increase transparency and accountability within the Defence Forces.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is expected to brief the Cabinet on new legislation governing the proceeds of crime, while Ministers will also consider plans to set up a national flood forecasting and warning service under the Office of Public Works.


Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will bring a new policy on student accommodation to Cabinet which will commit to investing in the construction of on-campus housing, the repurposing of vacant and derelict properties into housing and continued supports for homeowners renting a room to students.

A first phase focused on activating planning permissions already secured has committed €61 million to 1,000 beds across four institutions, and the department now plans to engage with UCD, Trinity and DCU over another 2,442 beds. In return for State investment the percentage of beds funded by the Government must be offered to disadvantaged students below market rates. Annual grants of between €20 million and €40 million could be made available to help universities repurpose unoccupied buildings.

The Cabinet will also consider the legislative agenda for the upcoming Dáil term, including 24 Bills on the list for priority publication and another 22 on the list for priority drafting. There are currently 28 Bills on the Dáil and Seanad order papers.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will brief the Cabinet on new legislation to set up an agriculture appeals review panel. The new statutory body will review decisions made by the Agricultural Appeals Office, which receives around 665 appeals per year where decisions made on participation in department schemes are challenged by farmers. The panel review decisions made by the office where there is an error of fact or law. The Bill also introduces time periods for seeking a review of an appeals officer’s decision.

Minister for Arts and Media Catherine Martin, as well as Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney, will seek Cabinet approval for a roadmap for supporting digital creative industries from 2024 to 2026.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times