Ombudsman For The Defence Forces

Making a Complaint to the Ombudsman

Who can make a complaint?

  • Serving Members of the Defence Force
  • Former Members of the Defence Force
  • Members of the Reserve Defence Force
  • Former Members of the Reserve Defence Force

Do I make my complaint directly to the Ombudsman?

The procedures differ depending on whether you are a serving or former Member of the Defence Force or Reserve Defence Force.

  • Serving members of the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force must first make a complaint through the Redress of Wrongs Procedures, established under Section 114 of the Defence Act 1954. (See Department of Defence's Website www.defence.ie).
  • If the complaint is not likely to be resolved and 28 days have passed since the submission of the complaint, a serving Member of the Permanent Defence Force or Reserve Defence Force may then bring his or her complaint to the Ombudsman.
  • It should be noted that the Ombudsman may decide not to carry out an investigation if he is of the opinion that the complainant has not taken reasonable steps to seek redress or if the complianant has taken such steps, that he or she has not been refused redress. In that regard, the fact that 28 days have elapsed since the making of a complaint by the serving member of the Defence Forces does not mean that the Ombudsman will carry out an investigation. Generally, the Ombudsman requires, where possible, internal redress procedures are exhausted prior to the Ombudsman undertaking an investigation of the complaint.
  • Former Members of the Permanent Defence Force or Reserve Defence Force may make a complaint directly to the Ombudsman.

Do I have to make a complaint within a specific time?

Serving and former members of the Defence Forces have to make a complaint:

  • Within 12 months of the action happening or
  • Within 12 months of becoming aware of the action.

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces can only investigate actions taken within the 12 month time limit.

Whose actions can I lodge a complaint about?

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces can investigate complaints about actions taken by:

  • Another serving Member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Reserve Defence Force;
  • A former Member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Reserve Defence Force who was serving at the time of the action,(both members must have been serving at the time of the alleged action) or
  • A Civil Servant who is or was employed in the Department of Defence.

What can I lodge a complaint about?

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces has wide powers to investigate any action that may have been:

  • Taken without proper authority;
  • Taken on irrelevant grounds;
  • The result of negligence or carelessness;
  • Based on wrong or incomplete information;
  • Unreasonable, considering the military context;
  • Based on undesirable administrative practice;
  • Improperly discriminatory; or
  • Contrary to fair or sound administration.

Are there any actions that the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces cannot investigate?

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is excluded from investigating actions that concern:

  • Security or Military operations;
  • Matters which are the subject of civil proceedings;
  • Organisation, structure and deployment of the Defence Forces;
  • Terms and conditions of employment or;
  • Constitutional or statutory review of punishment awarded
  • Management of Military Prisons.
  • An investigation under chapter IV of part 5 of the Defence Act 1954 as amended.
  • An investigation by a service tribunal other than an action concerning delay or the administration of the investigation.

How do I make a complaint?

To make a complaint to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, you may do so in writing or through the on-line Complaint Form available on our Website. You may telephone to request a copy of the Complaint Form to be sent out to you if you are unable to gain access to on-line facilities. Please send your written complaint together with any supporting documents you believe are relevant to your grievance to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, 15, Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Please keep a copy of your complaint and the other relevant supporting documentation for your own records.

What information should I include when I make a complaint?

When you make a complaint, please include:

  • Name, service number, rank and posting;
  • The date the action you are complaining about occurred and when you became aware of it;
  • A brief description of the background to the complaint;
  • A brief description of how the action affected you;
  • Service number, name, rank and posting of the person you allege took the action;
  • Copies of any documentation that you think are relevant to your complaint; and
  • The date you submitted your complaint within the Redress of Wrongs Procedures in the Defence Forces and the outcome of that process, if you are a Serving Member of the Defence Forces;
  • Also, please remember to give us your contact details and let us know how you would prefer to be contacted (home or mobile phone number or by e-mail or letter).

Please bear in mind that whereas the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces will give assistance to people who wish to make a complaint, the Ombudsman cannot advise on the likely success of the complaint.