Dáil Éireann - Volume 414 - 04 December, 1991

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Nursing Service.

4. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Defence if he will outline the current regulations which are in place for the Irish Army Nursing Service; if these regulations are those contained in Rialacháin Óglaigh na hÉireann Seirbhís Altranais an Airm A. 14; and if he will further outline the current regulations relating to maternity leave for members of the nursing service.

58. Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence if he will outline the current regulations for the Irish Army Nursing Service; if these regulations are those contained in Rialacha Óglaigh na hÉireann Seirbhís Altranais an Airm (A. 14); and if he will further outline the current regulations relating to maternity leave for members of the nursing service.

Mr. V. Brady: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 58 together.

Defence Force Regulations A. 14 — Seirbhís Altranais An Airm — contain, in relation to the Army Nursing Service, provisions in regard to appointments, pay and allowances, discipline, leave — including maternity leave — resignation, termination of service, uniform, etc. of the members.

Specifically in regard to maternity leave the position of members of the Army Nursing Service is that they are granted the same leave allowances as employees in the public service generally — 14 weeks on full pay.

Mr. Ryan: I, too, wish the Minister well in his new appointment and he can be sure of our support as far as it goes.

Given the existing equality legislation, namely, the Anti-Discrimination Act, 1974, and the Employment Equality Act, 1977, which outline discrimination on grounds of sex and on marital status in [81] employment, would the Minister accept that his Department, and indeed the Government, are in breach of the general principles of that legislation when one considers that a male nurse who recently applied for a position in the nursing service was not even afforded the opportunity of an interview because he was a man? Given that discrimination, would he be in a position to consider that case? Will he accept that there is grave discrimination there and will he indicate how he proposes to deal with this?

Mr. V. Brady: As I have already pointed out, the terms and provisions are very similar to those prevailing in the general health services. In relation to the matter the Deputy mentioned I am not fully aware of it. The regulations contain provisions which are set out in detail, relating to the employment of members of the Army Nursing Service. The provisions relate to various matters such as appointments, pay and allowances, discipline, sick leave, maternity leave, etc. The regulations are set out in such a way as to take cognisance of all aspects of service, particularly in relation to equality between the Army Nursing Service and the general health service. If the Deputy has a particular case in mind and he lets me have the details, I will be glad to look into it for him.

Mr. Ryan: I would welcome the opportunity to outline that case to the Minister. Will the Minister accept that the regulations pertaining to the Army Nursing Service as outlined in A14 are outdated and outmoded, particularly in the context of members retiring on marriage and candidates for appointment being unmarried or widowed? That is what is in the document the Department have to work on. While acknowledging that the Defence Forces are not covered by the equality legislation, I put it to the Minister that the principle of equality must be contained in that document. I ask him to meet the representatives of the staff in question, internal and external, to ensure that the principle of equality is contained in that [82] document. The point has been made briefly and I would ask for a response.

An Ceann Comhairle: Time is fast running out on Priority Questions.

Mr. V. Brady: I am concerned that there should be equality in all aspects. As I said, if the Deputy will let me have the details of the particular case, I will look into it. In relation to any other aspects, if I feel there is a need for a review I will certainly undertake that.