'Lack Of Promotion' Hits Defence Force

While Ireland's Ombudsman for the Defence Forces has revealed over 30 allegations of bullying were made last year, it was soldiers missing out on a promotion that made up more than a third of all complaints against the Defence Forces in 2009.

Paulyn Marrinan Quinn SC also said there were no complaints of sexual harassment made during the same period and noted that while 27 of the 31 bullying allegations were made by one member - and were still outstanding following a disciplinary hearing - none of the remaining four claims were upheld.

Ms Quinn - who upheld 74% of the 105 cases handled in 2009 - said that after four years her office has won the trust of troops.

However, some 37 of the complaints to her office dealt with selection procedures for promotion while 14 referred to selection for career courses.

A further 11 involved career-related administration procedures; eight examined maladministration; three involved selection procedures for overseas service and one was on conditions of employment/pension issues.

She said new changes to personnel and recruitment policies should go some way towards reducing the number of complaints over selections.

"As a result of my recommendations, there is now initial support for selection boards to use a marking matrix so that all candidates can have an objective measure of their performance at an interview," she said.

"Enhanced systems for offering candidates feedback after interview are being explored and, on a more specific note, Defence Force members now have a right to view information contained on their personal files, which was not formerly the case."

Elsewhere, the Ombudsman said former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea was sent reports in respect of 31 cases - and criticised why it took an average of 129 days to respond, an increase of 40 days on 2008.


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