Ombudsman for Defence Forces Commends Positive Engagement with her Office by Key Stakeholders in Annual Report

21 May 2012

Ombudsman for Defence Forces Commends Positive Engagement with her Office by Key Stakeholders in Annual Report

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, Ms Paulyn Marrinan Quinn S.C., has given credit to the Defence Forces and their Representative Associations for their positive and constructive engagement with her Office.

Speaking at the launch of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces 6th Annual Report, the Ombudsman said: “It is safe to conclude that the establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Defence Forces (ODF) has had a positive impact on administrative and human resource management practices within the Defence Forces. I have noted that the number of complaints resolved within the internal military complaints system has increased recently which I believe confirms that members of the Defence Forces have taken on board the findings and recommendations of my Office in the adjudication of cases.”

The report indicated that an increased number of complaints were dealt with through the internal redress system of the Defence Forces. In 2009, for example, only 21 per cent of grievances initiated by serving members of the Defence Forces were resolved internally by the Defence Forces; in 2011 this figure had increased to 46 per cent.

“Such change could only happen through the positive engagement of the Chief of Staff , his senior command and staff, members of the Defence Forces, their representative associations; and successive ministers for defence. My Office’s achievements are their achievements and I commend all of them for their constructive approach and openness to reform,” said Ms Marrinan Quinn.

Established in 2005, The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was empowered to provide both an independent and accessible appeal process for members who were not satisfied with the internal military handling of their grievances in addition to providing civilian oversight of administrative practices within the Defence Forces.

Since its establishment, the ODF has played a key role in ensuring that grievances and complaints within the Irish Defence Forces are dealt with in an impartial manner which respects and safeguards the fundamental freedoms and human rights of our ‘citizens in uniform’.

Ms Marrinan Quinn also said: “The legislation underpinning the operation of my Office, has proved transformative in terms of providing a clear framework for civilian administrative oversight of the Defence Forces, and has set an internationally recognised benchmark of best practice for the Office of Military Ombudsman. I advocate that the legislation should remain under review in order to ensure that it continues to be relevant and at the cutting edge.”

As part of the activity of the ODF in 2011, the Office had some 83 individual cases. The largest number of complaints related to the administration and management of the selection procedures for promotion within the military.

The grounds and causes giving rise to complaints were as follows:

  • 37 related to the administration and management of selection procedures for promotion.
  • 13 related to the administration and management of selection procedures for career courses.
  • 23 related to maladministration of career-related procedures.
  • Six related to the administration and management of selection procedures for overseas services.
  • Four related to alleged inappropriate behaviour or bullying.

Since the establishment of the Office of ODF, some 36 per cent of cases involved the management and administration of promotion selection procedures. “I am very pleased that the issues that my Office has raised in relation to promotion procedures have been taken on board and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence and Chief of Staff confirmed that the new promotion procedures, which I hope will be more transparent and consistent, have been agreed and are in place,” said Ms. Marrinan Quinn.

The following is a breakdown by Category of the 83 cases condisered by the Ombudsman -

Gender

  • 4 - From Female Complainants
  • 79 - From Male Complainants
Origin of Complaints
  • 73 - From Permanent Defence Force members
  • 4 - From Reserve Defence Force members
  • 5 - From former Permanent Defence Force members
  • 1 - From a former Reserve Defence Force member

Rank

  • 7 - From Officers
  • 61 - From Non-Commissioned Officers
  • 15 - From Enlisted Personned (incl 2 Apprentices)

Service

  • 10– Air Corps
  • 63– Army
  • 10– Naval Service