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Gnáthamharc

Defence Forces Ombudsman.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 29 September 2005

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Ceisteanna (74)

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

67 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Defence the role of the newly appointed first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, Ms Marrinan-Quinn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25798/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

The office of Ombudsman for the Defence Forces has been established as an independent statutory office under the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004 by the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004 (Commencement) Order 2005. The appointment of a person to the office is made by the President acting upon the recommendation of the Government. Ms Paulyn Marrinan-Quinn was recently so appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Government as the first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. She was nominated to the Government by me, having been previously selected by the Public Appointments Service as a result of an open public competition held by it.

The function of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces will be 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 or against a civil servant of the Department of Defence. The actual functions of the ombudsman, as provided for in the legislation, will commence with effect from 1 December 2005 under the commencement order. Subject to the terms of the legislation and her own independent personal judgment and discretion, the ombudsman will undertake independent investigation into any complaint made to her and will issue a written report and recommendations arising from such an investigation.

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 1 December 2005, the date set by Government order for the statutory commencement of the functions of the office. The ombudsman will function independently in the performance of her duties and has a wide discretion in the discharge of the duties of the position subject to the terms of the Act. She will, however, have due regard to the operational requirements of the Defence Forces. Where the complainant is serving in the Defence Forces, the complaint must have been within the military redress of wrongs system for at least 28 days. The ombudsman, on receipt of the complaint from the complainant, must form an opinion that the complaint is not likely to be resolved within that forum and that the other necessary criteria set out in the Act are satisfied. Complainants who are former members of the Defence Forces will apply directly to the ombudsman in the first instance.

The Ombudsman will typically investigate and ascertain if the action or decision complained of was taken without proper authority or on irrelevant grounds, was negligent or careless, based on erroneous or incomplete information, improperly discriminatory, unreasonable notwithstanding consideration of the context of the military environment, based on undesirable administrative practice or contrary to fair or sound administration. There are specific exclusions within the legislation in respect of certain specific areas and matters which are outside the remit of the ombudsman. An important component of the work will consist of the making of formal written reports and recommendations to the Minister on foot of investigations undertaken in various individual cases and in following up the official administrative response to these reports and recommendations. There is a statutory requirement for the Ombudsman to provide an annual report to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

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