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Ombudsman rejects complaint that Defence Forces member was subjected to 'bullying, intimidation and harassment'

The case is included in the Defence Forces Ombudsman annual report for 2016.

File photo of Defence Forces members.
File photo of Defence Forces members.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A MEMBER OF the Defence Forces who claimed he was subjected to “bullying, intimidation, and harassment of the highest order” after he left his phone with his wife while on leave had his complaint rejected by the Ombudsman.

The case is included in the Defence Forces Ombudsman annual report for 2016.

The member took annual leave for four days in May 2011. During that time, he went fishing and left his phone with his wife for “security reasons” related to his house alarm.

During this time, the member complained that his wife received 15 to 20 calls per day from the man’s unit. He also said that his wife received 15 missed calls over a 45 minute period while she was at a family funeral.

The reason for the calls was that a General Officer Commanding (GOC) inspection was due to take place during his leave period. The complainant’s Commanding Officer (CO) had not been aware that he had been granted leave.

When they found out, his unit was ordered to try to reach him so that he could cancel his leave in order to prepare for the inspection.

Despite the multiple attempts to reach him, no contact was made with the complainant while he was on leave. He gave no reason as to why the phone calls weren’t answered or responded to.

Later, the complainant alleged that he was marched into the CO’s office and admonished.

He said he was not given a chance to speak and that he felt “vulnerable and fearful” and was left “in a distressed state”.

The CO said he would rectify the matter and later the complainant said he was informed that in future his leave applications were to go through the Company Sergeant of his parent unit.

The complainant said he believed this to be unfair and unlawful, particularly where he had a poor relationship with the Company Sergeant.

The complainant alleged that he was treated unfairly and that he was given extra duties as punishment for what happened while he was on leave.

He said that the conduct of his parent unit during his leave and after was  was “bullying, intimidation, and harassment of the highest order”.

However, the Ombudsman found that the complainant had not been singled out or treated unfairly and did not uphold his complaint.

Annual report

In total of cases under review by the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces during 2016 was 137.

This was a 4% increase on the 132 cases under review in 2015. A total of 24 cases were brought to final determination during that period.

In relation to the nature of complaints:

  • 56 related to non-selection for promotion;
  • 46 related to general maladministration;
  • 18 related to non-selection for overseas service or a particular posting;
  • 12 related to non-selection for a career course; and
  • 5 related to interpersonal issues.

You can view the report in full here

Read: Houses evacuated as bomb squad makes explosive device safe in Limerick

Read: Over 1,000 Defence Forces members bought their way out in the last five years

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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