Written Answers. - Permanent Defence Forces.

Michael Bell

Ceist:

26 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself with the criteria for selection for promotion of senior officers in the Permanent Defence Forces; if he will give details of the promotion criteria and the way in which they were decided upon; his views on whether public servants in his Department are qualified to determine the qualifications for promotion of senior officers in the Permanent Defence Forces, or whether this could best be decided by the general staff in the Permanent Defence Forces; in consultation with the officers' representative body and on an agreed formula; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Gleeson Commission which has been established by the Government to review conditions of service in the Defence Forces recommended in 1990 that "the selection of officers for promotion should change from a system based almost exclusively on seniority to a system based on merit".

The commission outlined a new system of promotion, the principal feature of which was the establishment of promotion boards to assess and interview candidates for promotion up to the level of brigadier-general. The boards would comprise senior military officers and in the case of certain ranks a civilian member appointed by the Minister for Defence on the recommendation of the Civil Service Commission.

Promotion boards are required to certify that an officer recommended for promotion is considered best fitted for promotion having regard to a number of criteria as regards suitability. These criteria include: (a) leadership qualities and capacity for personnel management; (b) performance in appointments held; (c) innovative and initiative demonstrated; (d) qualities of reliability, devotion to duty, zeal, industry and ability; (e) recommendations in Annual Confidential Reports or equivalent certifications; (f) performance at various courses of training, and (g) length of service in the Defence Forces.

These criteria are based on the recommendations of the Gleeson Commission and, following consultation with the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, were set down in Defence Force Regulations which are Statutory Instruments made by the Minister for Defence under the Defence Act, 1954, as amended.

Arrangements for the holding of promotion competitions, including eligibility requirements and criteria for assessment of candidates, are appropriate for discussion and agreement through the representative structure which has been established. In the matter of officer promotions, this mechanism continues to be employed and discussions are conducted between my Department's representatives, both civil and military personnel and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers.