Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney has said the group of women who alleged they were sexually assaulted and harassed while serving in the Defence Forces have agreed to meet him.

The experiences of the women were detailed in an RTÉ Radio One documentary last week, titled Women of Honour.

The programme detailed the experiences of former female members of the Defence Forces and included accounts from women who spoke of incidents of alleged sexual abuse, discrimination and harassment.

In the wake of the broadcast, there were calls for an independent inquiry into their allegations.

In a statement today, Mr Coveney said that terms of the establishment of an independent review are being reviewed in light of the RTÉ programme.

He said: "I can confirm that this will be conducted by independent, unbiased personnel.

"The purpose of this Independent Review is to examine the effectiveness of current policies and procedures for dealing with workplace issues such as dignity, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.

"I very much look forward to meeting with the women profiled in the programme, and listening to their views."

In a statement this afternoon, the Women of Honour group said it was happy to confirm its meeting with Mr Coveney "to discuss the requirement for a wholly independent, specific purpose review into the failings and gross inadequacies of the Defence Forces complaints system.

"This is with a view to bringing about radical change to a system which authorises the organisation to investigate itself," it added.

Meanwhile, an academic who researched gender issues in the Defence Forces more than a decade ago said she spoke to women about their deep concerns relating to sexual harassment and how they felt they could not report it.

Dr Shirley Graham also said she felt the Defence Forces did not take her findings seriously at the time.

She spoke about the "culture" in the Defence Forces as she undertook her research and said she herself experienced sexual harassment.

She said she did not say anything at the time and regrets not reporting it.

Dr Graham said she was concerned about making a fuss and it having an adverse affect on her research.

She said it was now important to speak out on behalf of women in the Defence Forces.

Dr Graham said her findings set out the sexist attitudes and behaviours and she wants to put it on public record.

"I have felt silenced and wanted to break that silence," she added.

Responding to Dr Graham's account, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said it compounds all of the evidence from other women and that misogyny is still a very live issue and has to be tackled.

She said it is about changing the culture and that has to start at the top.

"Part of that is having an independent investigation," she said. "We need action on this."