68 members of Defence Forces convicted or charged with offences

A total of 68 members of the Defence Forces have been convicted or are before the courts charged with criminal offences.

They include public order, drink driving, drugs, physical assault and sexual offences.

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheal Martin asked for a review of members of the Irish military who were charged with offences after the case of an Irish soldier who assaulted a woman until she was unconscious prompted protests across Ireland in the past week.

Victim Natasha O’Brien called on politicians and the Defence Forces to “do your job” to protect women and other civilians.

Natasha O’Brien speaking to the media
Natasha O’Brien speaking to the media as she joins protesters outside Leinster House in Dublin (Gareth Chaney/PA)

A spokesman for Mr Martin said he is “adamant that the Defence Forces is a place where no one convicted of serious physical assaults, sexual offences or domestic or gender-based violence can continue to be in active service”.

“Following the Natasha O’Brien case, the Tanaiste was informed last Friday of another case involving a Naval Service member who is still serving after being convicted of assault causing harm last November,” the statement said.

“In light of this, he requested a report from the Chief of Staff to find out how many serving members of the Defence Forces have civil convictions, or are before the civil courts on serious criminal offences.

“Last night, the Tanaiste was informed of 68 Defence Forces personnel who have been convicted, or are currently before the civil courts, on a range of criminal offences including public order, drink driving, drugs offences, physical assault and sexual offences,” the spokesperson said.

“He also received the report requested on the case of the Naval Service member convicted of assault causing harm.

“The Tanaiste has now asked officials to provide a concise report based on the information received. He has sought legal advice from the Attorney General on how this information can be published in an appropriate and legally sound way.”

As of May last year, there were 7,764 permanent members of the Defence Forces.