THE OMBUDSMAN FOR the Defence Forces dealt with 83 individual cases in 2011, the largest number of which were related to the selection procedures for promotion within the military.
The ODF‘s annual report has been published, and in it Ombudsman Paulyn Marrinan Quinn said that “due to fiscal constraints, the moratorium on recruitment and the reduction in overseas service, appropriate redress in cases where I have upheld a complaint may not be available in the short to medium term”.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the Ombudsman said that this meant that individuals whose complaints were upheld were not able to avail of redress as in the past, such as being able to attend a Career Course or other course of action as recommended by her.
She said that many were happy with being vindicated, despite the lack of redress, but unfortunately it looked like the situation will not change in the near future. It is “pretty tough on them”, said the Ombudsman, who added she always personally calls the individuals to explain the situation to them.
She thanked the members and former members of the Defence Forces for the “forebearance” they have shown in the matter.
Defence Minister Alan Shatter said that a review of the Redress of Wrongs system is due to commence later this year.
The report showed that of the complaints dealt with:
- 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.
While 63 (76 per cent) of the cases came from members or former members of the Army, 10 (12 per cent) came from members/former members of the Air Corps and 10 (12 per cent) came from members or former members of the Naval Service.
The report also showed 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.
The Minister for Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, welcomed the publication of the report. He noted the many positive developments, in particular, the reduction in delays experienced in dealing with final reports and the increasing frequency with which complaints are now settled through the redress system within the Defence Forces.
When I was appointed Minister, I met the Ombudsman and assured her of my commitment to support her in her work and to deal expeditiously with all cases coming before me. I am glad to see the committed work of the Defence Forces and the Department and the improvements achieved over the past year reflected in her report.
The Minister noted that the Ombudsman has suggested specific aspects of the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004 that may benefit from review, amendment and extension. He stated he would examine her suggestions for reform.