Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (85)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


85. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of protected disclosures made to his Department since the current legislation was introduced; the number of personnel dismissed from the Defences Forces; the number still serving members; and the number that have applied to rejoin the Defence Forces in view of the retention crisis that exists. [53118/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

There have been a total of 22 Protected Disclosures made between 2014 and 2018 with an additional 4 received to date in 2019. This figure relates to all Protected Disclosures which have made been made both to the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces. These Protected Disclosures were submitted by serving individuals and also by individuals who were retired from the organisation at the time of making the discloser. In addition some Protected Disclosures were made on anonymous basis.

In accordance with the terms of section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 an annual report in relation to the total number of protected disclosures made in the preceding year is prepared and published on the departmental website https://www.defence.ie/what-we-do/protected-disclosures.

As I have previously stated, the health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces are a priority to me and I am fully committed to compliance with the requirements of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 and to the protections contained in that Act. To this end I want to ensure that those making protected disclosures are reassured that where such disclosures are made in accordance with the legislation that they are and will continue to be dealt with in a thorough and fair manner. I have made it clear to my Department and the Defence Forces that the protections of the Act must be afforded to those who make qualifying disclosures under the Act. I take very seriously any complaint of penalisation or threatened penalisation of a member of the Defence Forces for having made a protected disclosure and I note that a statutory mechanism for investigation is available to the complainant. The mechanism is the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces as provided for in Section 20 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

I am not aware of any officer who made a Protected Disclosure who subsequently left the Defence Forces applying to re-join, nor am I aware of any enlisted person who made a Protected Disclosure and subsequently left the Defence Forces seeking to re-enlist as a recruit.

Given, as I have already outlined, that the Protected Disclosures were made by a variety of individuals both retired and serving and also anonymously it is not possible to clearly identify the number of personnel who made Protected Disclosures who are still serving.

Question No. 86 answered with Question No. 81.