Sunday, 19 July 2015

Defence Farce: We expose ‘shambles’ in Irish Army where bullying and sexual harassment are rife

Three whistleblowers make shock claims including claims the lives of our troops on foreign tours are being put at risk by officers breaking safety rules

Disillusioned Defence Force troops have blown the whistle on the bullying, sexual harassment and dangerous practices which are crushing morale.
Our exclusive revelations include claims that the lives of our troops on foreign tours are being put at risk by officers breaking safety rules.

And one female soldier claimed she woke to find a male colleague standing over her with his genitals on her face.
A brave whistleblower told us: “I love my country but what I’ve seen over the past few years is just sick.”
Today we lift the lid on explosive allegations of bullying, sexual harassment and dangerous foreign tours which have
decimated morale among our Defence Force troops.
Three separate whistleblowers have come forward with shocking claims to expose an army which they say is nothing short of a shambles.
But young soldiers’ concerns are continually dismissed and morale within the force is at an all-time low, the Irish Sunday Mirror can reveal.
This week three brave officers – two of whom are lower-ranked while one has retired – made claims that:
  • Legal proceedings have been launched against the Defence Force by officers who claim their lives have been put at risk;
  • Bullying is rife among troops and young privates were told by senior officers they would return from tours abroad in body bags;
  • Female officers are routinely harassed and on one occasion a soldier was accused of placing his genitals on the face of a female colleague as she slept;
  • A corporal is to face a military court in a serious sexual harassment case.
    In one shocking case, a young soldier on a tour of duty in Lebanon claimed his life was put in danger when commanding officers broke strict rules and brought their armoured vehicle through an
    area riddled with explosives.
The private told his officer it was dangerous to go off the set track, but he was ignored and the convoy continued on a dirt track which was a notorious Hezbollah booby trap hotspot.
When our reporter contacted the soldier, he said he wasn’t allowed talk to us and directed us to the Defence Forces press office.
Other soldiers contacted by us agreed the allegations made by this whistleblower were accurate and fair.
One of the most explosive claims concerns an army captain – who has since retired – being told to destroy medical evidence that would have made senior officers liable for serious injuries suffered by Irish troops abroad.
It’s understood the injured soldier was part of a convoy in the Middle East.
But the captain refused to destroy the evidence and decided to retire because he was so disillusioned.
We can also reveal one soldier will appear before a military court for sexual harassment in September, a claim confirmed by the Defence Forces.
One of the whistleblowers said he was sick of the cover-ups within the Defence Forces and believes that people should know what really happens in our taxpayer-funded army.
He told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I can’t bite my tongue any longer. I love my country, but what I’ve seen over the past few years is nothing short of sick.
“You get talking to other men and women and it’s only until one of us is brave enough to say something that it all comes out.
“The female soldiers have told me horror stories about what’s happening in the barracks.
"From the usual dirty jokes to people actually physically harassing them, it’s not a nice place to be. I heard a woman woke up with a guy’s genitals on her face. The senior guys don’t want to know about it. They like to pretend everything is alright and it’s not.
“You hear horror stories about people on tour. A lot of the time they can’t speak up as it’d be seen as challenging your commanding officer.
“I know of two cases where younger soldiers told their superiors in private about concerns about their safety.
“They were told they were weaklings, to man up and that was it. Another thing that happened was when a group was getting ready to go overseas, they were told they had better get fitted for body bags as they wouldn’t be coming home.
“Another officer said he loved the smell of burning flesh. A lot of the time it’s just scare tactics but it’s the last thing you want to hear, especially if it’s your first tour abroad.”
Another whistleblower claimed a potential explosive device was found in the middle of the specially-designed tarmac path used by
UN peacekeeping troops.
Standard procedure in cases like these is a back-up crew would be called and a sweep of the area would take place.
In many cases, the convoy would reverse and take a different route. But in this particular case, the convoy was told to go straight ahead and that the suspicious object was little more than a hoax.
The IED exploded but miraculously only a few soldiers were injured.
He revealed: “There is such a great reputation for the force and it’s great when it’s for the right reasons. But
they’re few and far between.
“I joined up to be there for the rest of my life but now I’m going and there’s no way back for me.”

Culled from Irish Mirror

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