Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 16 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Defence Forces Review.

  255. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Defence the steps that have been taken by senior management of the military at a location (details supplied) to address the issues raised in the Doyle report; the outside bodies which were consulted in relation to addressing these issues; the recommendations that were made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28520/04]

  Mr. O’Dea: It is presumed that the Deputy is referring to the recent report of the independent monitoring group which was presented to my predecessor on 24 September 2004 entitled Response to the Challenge of a Workplace, rather than the original report entitled The Challenge of a Workplace, which was published in March 2002, commonly referred to as the Doyle report.

The following action has been taken by military management regarding the Defence Forces as a whole. A steering group has been established to oversee the implementation of the proposals that were contained in Response to the Challenge of a Workplace. The steering group is chaired by the assistant Chief of Staff with responsibility for support and the executive director of human resources and consists of the director of the administration section, the director of the human resources management section and the director of Defence Forces training. Working groups are being convened by each of the three directors to undertake various tasks in line with the main subject areas covered by the report.

A programme of briefings will commence on 16 November 2004 to ensure that each and every member of the Permanent Defence Force [840] receives a comprehensive briefing on Response to the Challenge of a Workplace from awareness teams in each brigade and formation. Both representative associations, PDFORRA and RACO, will have members on the awareness teams. Members of the PDF in all barracks and posts will be briefed before the end of the year with briefings of the Reserve Defence Force to follow.

In the course of the implementation process, the following external agencies were consulted. An equality steering group under the chairmanship of a member of the Labour Court was established by the IMG in September 2003 to audit administrative practices and procedures of the Defence Forces to ensure that they comply with current legislation and best HRM practices. Response to the Challenge of a Workplace includes the ESG report.

An independent 24-hour confidential telephone help-line and counselling service provided by staff care services was introduced in March 2003. Information leaflets on this service were sent to each member of the Permanent Defence Force when the service was introduced. Despite the small numbers availing of the service — 55 up to the end of February 2004 — this service will continue to be available.

Exit questionnaires and interviews were conducted by the Dublin Institute of Technology research centre with all personnel who left the Permanent Defence Force since 1 October 2003 up to the completion of their research.

The system of dealing with complaints in the Defence Forces has been revised to address any improper and illegal interpersonal behaviour. One aspect of this is the proposal to use designated contact persons to act as a third party as part of an informal complaints procedure. DCPs will be available in every barracks and post throughout the organisation. A total of approximately 170 have been trained. These personnel will carry out their role as DCPs in addition to their normal duties. The role of the DCP is to provide a voluntary informal resource for personnel who may wish to discuss an incident of alleged bullying or harassment. The DCP may help either the complainant or a person who happens to be complained about. Ms Bernadette Kinsella, assistant general secretary of the joint managerial body of independent secondary schools provided training for designated contacted persons.

In May and June 2003, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation was contracted to conduct a series of seminars on conflict prevention and resolution for senior officers and NCOs in all units and training establishments throughout the Defence Forces.

Professor Mark Morgan, St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College, Drumcondra, was contracted to assess training methodologies and to provide workshops for cadet school instructors.

Regarding the specific location referred to by the Deputy, the military authorities advise that a panel of officers and non-commissioned person[841] nel attended a number of briefings by the independent monitoring group following the publication of the initial Doyle report of March 2002. These were followed by a comprehensive series of briefings held at that location for every unit of that particular formation. Since then, all documents and booklets that have been produced by the military authorities in relation to the revised instructions regarding interpersonal relationships in the Defence Forces and the procedures for reporting and investigating any complaints on the matter have been disseminated to the personnel of the formation in question.