Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 17 November, 2004
Written Answers. - Defence Forces Conduct.
Mr. Murphy Mr. Murphy
82. Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Defence the progress that has been made on tackling bullying and harassment within the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28766/04]
Ms Burton Ms Burton
 91. Ms Burton asked the Minister for Defence the progress made to date in implementing the recommendations of the Doyle report concerning fundamentally tackling the issue of bullying in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28822/04]
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
103. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the comments of a person (details supplied) that they were gobsmacked at the manner in which details of bullying cases within the Defence Forces emerged in the media during the recent PDFORRA conference; his views on whether there is an ignorance at senior level of the Defence Forces of the depth and extent of bullying throughout the forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28819/04]
Mr. O’Dea Mr. O’Dea
Mr. O’Dea: I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 91 and 103 together.
In March 2002, Dr. Eileen Doyle and the external advisory committee group presented their report, The Challenge of a Workplace, commonly referred to as the Doyle report, to my predecessor. The contents and recommendations of the Doyle report were accepted in full.
Action to implement the recommendations of the report has been one of the highest priorities for the Defence Forces since its publication. In this context, the comments made by the chief of staff at the recent PDFORRA conference reflected his puzzlement at an apparent lack of recognition of the unprecedented level of time and commitment which both he and senior civil and military management have given to addressing the issues raised in the Doyle report. One of the most notable features of the work undertaken to implement the recommendations of the Doyle report was that the representative bodies played such a full, equal and active part at all levels of the process. The chief of staff has strongly supported a partnership approach to addressing these issues. He has repeatedly emphasised his acceptance of the problems and has recognised the necessity to tackle this matter in a fundamental way at all levels of the Defence Forces. The chief of staff has demonstrated a very active and genuine commitment to change and has emphasised that it is incumbent on all commanders to ensure that best practice in management of personnel is fostered at all levels to eliminate the problems identified in the Doyle report.
I emphasise that bullying is not training for anything. I fully realise that the project of bringing about necessary fundamental changes in attitudes and culture will not be quick or easy. However, with substantial and vigorous leadership, I have every confidence that the proper  environment will be firmly established and maintained throughout the Defence Forces.
The follow up action to the Doyle report was driven by the independent monitoring group established in May 2002 to oversee the implementation of recommendations arising from the report. This group met regularly to oversee the implementation of the report’s recommendations. Membership of this group included the general secretaries of the representative associations PDFORRA and RACO.
The independent monitoring group’s progress report entitled Response to the Challenge of a Workplace, commonly referred to as the Doyle report 2, was launched by my predecessor on Friday, 24 September 2004. This report describes the progress achieved since the publication of the original Doyle report in 2002.
The monitoring group has overseen the conduct of a major educational awareness programme throughout the Defence Forces. Considerable progress has been made in the past two years. Firm guiding principles had already been set out in the Defence Forces dignity in the workplace charter. A new administrative instruction on interpersonal relationships was introduced in March 2003 and a users guide was distributed to every member of the Defence Forces. This new instruction describes the six key relevant domains of interpersonal relationship within the Defence Forces. It sets out contemporary best practice for policy and procedures in dealing with negative workplace behaviours. It lists the full set of formal and informal complaint procedures that may be utilised by any party wishing to institute a complaint.
Some 200 trained designated contact persons are being put in place throughout the organisation to facilitate the operation of these procedures. Approximately 170 of these designated contact persons have already been trained and a strategic plan is in place to develop the numbers up to 200.
An independent 24 hour confidential telephone helpline 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.
A pilot project to record the experiences and views of outgoing members of the Defence Forces was conducted by the Dublin Institute of Technology research centre. This project, which involved confidential interviews and questionnaires, proved very valuable.
The particular challenges of the military training environment were identified in the Doyle report. This area has been given particular attention in the course of the last two years, especially as regards the key pivotal roles of NCOs in leadership and training within brigade forma tions. Focus groups of NCOs have proven useful here and external experts were sourced for training of these crucial NCO cadres. There has been a sustained emphasis on training the trainers.
The monitoring group has made a series of important recommendations concerning the ranking, selection, training and reward systems for officer and NCO instructors in the cadet school. An immediate change in the training regime for cadets will have a vital demonstration effect. It has been decided, therefore, that the process of introducing these changes will begin with the 2004 cadet intake. Some of the changes will take longer to implement and will be addressed through the conciliation and arbitration process or the overall review of Defence Forces organisation.
The equality steering group was established in autumn 2002 and conducted an independent study under a Labour Court chairperson of Defence Force regulations and administrative instructions, policy and procedures. Its comprehensive audit examined policy and procedures in the light of existing civil statutory requirements such as employment equality and equal status legislation and best civil employment practice. PDFORRA and RACO representatives were also members of this group.
The Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Bill has now passed all Stages. The provision of a statutory Ombudsman for the Defence Forces will provide a further significant impetus in support of the major transformation in culture and practice which has been initiated and which is now well underway.
The Defence Forces are in the process of developing an active and strategic human resource management model of personnel management, development and leadership under the new integrated personnel management system. This is a most important step that will facilitate and hasten the achievement and consolidation of our shared objectives. The tangible result will be a modern and contemporary Defence Force — an organisation that can serve as an international role model.
Every member of the Defence Forces has a right to be treated with respect and dignity and to work within the Defence Forces free from harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. The monitoring group has explicitly recommended that a further independent review and audit of progress within the Defence Forces be carried out no later than 2007 and that the results should be made public.
Since the publication of Response to the Challenge of a Workplace, Doyle report 2, this September the following action has been taken by military management: 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 — support — and executive director human resources and  consists of the director administration section, director human resources management section and the director 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 commenced on 16 November 2004 to ensure that each and every member of the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, 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, RDF, to follow.
Dáil Éireann 592 Written Answers. Defence Forces Conduct.