The Women of Honour group is not happy with draft terms of reference for a statutory inquiry into abuse within the Defence Forces which were presented on Tuesday.
Diane Byrne, a spokesperson for the group, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the draft terms were presented following no engagement and were “far too narrow”,
“We have always been of the opinion that while quick would be great, it has to be done right. The IRG was done for speed, and now we're back where we started.
“Before going into the meeting, our hope was that we would be moving toward planning workshops around an appropriate statutory process in terms of reference. That's always been our position, that all stakeholders involved are going to need to get together to develop what needs to be done here.
“And our fear going in was that we would be given a draft terms of reference because that is what happened previously with the IRG report.
"Despite the engagements that we had had, and that's exactly what happened, we were handed a draft terms of reference with no prior engagement based on the IRG report, which we didn't support or participate in because we found it was too narrow, and it didn't have the powers”.
Ms Byrne said that the Women of Honour group would now put together a submission on terms of reference, but what they wanted was a full public tribunal. There remained an element of hope, she said.
“We'll always have hope. I suppose that they will finally listen to what we're saying. We believe it needs to be a full public tribunal. I know there are concerns there around anonymity, but that can be accommodated, but this is as much about trust and truth as anything.
“One of the key issues that we've always put forward is not necessarily the initial incidents that have happened, but the extent of the concealment and the damage that has been done on purpose to victims. So we need to get to the truth here and a full public statutory inquiry, and we welcome that. It needs a full public tribunal at this point. So that's one of the key issues.
Ms Byrne said that trust was a major issue. “There is no trust for various reasons. And if there is a process put in place that is not whiter than white, you know, the optics are everything here.
“We have a situation where the Department of Defence and secretary general, who need to be investigated from our perspective, are ingrained in the investigation.
"You're not going to have anybody believe in this. And if we have a situation where there isn't a belief or a trust in this, it's only going to amplify the hurt that is out there and the mistrust. And it's going to change nothing but be window dressing, and we can't be part of that”.
When asked if the Women of Honour group wants the tribunal to be about ‘naming and shaming’, Ms Byrne responded: “Absolutely. We have to understand who was involved in getting there and how the abuse of power happened, because otherwise, if you don't have some sense of accountability and understanding of who got us to this point, there's no deterrent.
"It's all going to keep happening again and there's nothing to stop this happening. We need to get to the bottom of it”.