Thursday, 29 January 2004

Ceisteanna (82)

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

78 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence the investigation held into allegations that members of the Air Corps based in Sligo were subjected to bullying, prior to the recent decision to terminate the helicopter service based there; if specific complaints of bullying or harassment were received; the actions taken as a result of any such complaints; if it is intended to review his decision to terminate the search and rescue service operated by the Air Corps from Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2572/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

The military authorities advise that no specific formal complaints of bullying or harassment have been received by them from Air Corps personnel who were deployed as part of the search and rescue service in Sligo. All Defence Forces personnel may avail of the Defence Forces procedures in relation to any complaints of harassment or bullying. These procedures are outlined in the administrative instruction on interpersonal relationships in the Defence Forces, which is available and applicable to all personnel. Personnel may also submit any such complaints through the redress of wrongs procedure, as provided for under section 114 of the Defence Act. The allegations referred to were published in the media at the time and the general officer commanding, Air Corps initiated a military police investigation to establish the facts of the matter. This investigation is not yet completed.

In December 2003, when I announced the discontinuance of the Air Corps SAR service in the north west, I acknowledged the efforts of Air Corps management and staff to maintain an operational SAR service in the north west and, in particular, the dedication and commitment of key personnel in the search and rescue service. However, notwithstanding this commitment, the Air Corps was unable to provide the required service in the north west and, as a result, I advised my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, that he should seek to make alternative arrangements to secure the service. Arrangements are now in hand to give effect to the hand-over of the service from the Air Corps at the earliest possible date.