Dáil Éireann - Volume 633 - 07 March, 2007
Written Answers. - Defence Forces Ombudsman.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
Ms McManus asked the Minister for Defence the number of complaints referred to the ombudsman for investigation since that office was established; the number that have been resolved; the number that are still outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8884/07]
Mr. O’Dea Mr. O’Dea
Mr. O’Dea: The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was established under the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004. On the 19th September 2005, Ms. Paulyn Marrinan-Quinn SC was appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the Government, as the first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.
The function of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is to act as the ultimate point of appeal for, and administrative investigation into, complaints made by members (and former members) of the Defence Forces against another member (or former member) of the Defence Forces, or against a civil servant of the Department of Defence. The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces may investigate a complaint in respect of an action or decision, which may have adversely affected the complainant personally. The action or decision complained of must have occurred no earlier than the 1st December 2005.
To date, the office of the Ombudsman has sent me twenty-four (24) Final Reports. I have either responded to or am in the process of responding to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces in respect of each of the Final Reports. The Minister for Defence is obliged to inform the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces of the measures taken or proposed in response to her recommendation.
I can also inform the Deputy that between 1 December 2005 and 1 February 2007 (the latest date for which information is available), some 106 complaints have been made within the military system under Section 114 of the Defence Act 1954, as now amended by the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004, seeking redress of wrongs. Those redress complainants, whose complaints relate to matters occurring on or after 1st December 2005, are eligible to refer their complaint to the Ombudsman if a complainant so desires. I am advised by the Military Authorities  that there are some 86 complaints in this category, of which 25 have been referred to the Ombudsman so far.
The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is, in accordance with the Act, independent in the performance of her duties. She is required to cause a report on the performance of her functions under the Act to be laid annually before each House of the Oireachtas. In these circumstances, I do not consider it appropriate for me to report on her behalf or to give details in relation to her reports on individual cases, complaints already submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, the status of those complaints, or the current treatment of those cases by the Ombudsman.
I am happy to inform the Deputy that the primary focus in these cases to date has been on selection for promotion, selection for military career courses and selection for overseas service. I can also indicate that the reports of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces have made a valuable contribution to the ongoing updating of selection procedures in these three areas.
Dáil Éireann 633 Written Answers. Defence Forces Ombudsman.