Ombudsman for the Defence Forces Issues first Annual Report

15 May 2007

Annual Report 2006 The majority of cases investigated by the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces in 2006 concerned grievances about non-selection for promotion, career courses and overseas service by serving members of the Defence Forces.
According to her first Annual Report, launched today (15.05.07), the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, Paulyn Marrinan Quinn, SC, considered 26 cases for investigation. Out of these, a final determination was issued in 16 cases.

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces became operational in December 2005. The Office was established to provide serving and former members of the Defence Forces with an impartial and independent review of their grievances.

According to the Ombudsman, Paulyn Marrinan Quinn, "the majority of complaints that were eligible for investigation by my Office concerned the non-selection of serving members for promotion, courses and overseas service. In fact, of the 26 cases that I considered, 21 of these related to ‘non-selection’.”

Of the total cases considered by the Ombudsman, 62% were upheld in favour of the complainant.

"As a result of some of my initial reports in respect of cases referred to me which related to the interview processes for NCO Career Courses and Overseas Service, new interview and selection procedures were introduced on an interim basis in July 2006. To have played a role in encouraging such change is an important milestone for my Office to have achieved in its first year of operation.

"I have found the Defence Forces to be open and receptive to the establishment of this Office and have been struck by a willingness to recognise the benefits of having an Ombudsman."

During 2006, the Office of the Defence Ombudsman focused significant attention on promoting awareness of its work across serving members and former members of the Defence Forces.

"To ensure that all of our stakeholders are aware of the role which we play in reviewing grievances, my Office has dedicated significant resources to communicating with our audiences. We produced 35,000 leaflets which detailed the scope and role of my Office, as well as the steps that need to be followed when making a complaint. The leaflets - which have The Plain English seal of approval - were widely distributed and produced in Braille and audio versions to ensure maximum accessibility.”

The Ombudsman’s role included 19 presentations, lectures and attendances for the Defence Forces at a range of fora in 2006. She was also appointed to the OSCE Expert Group on human rights and fundamental freedoms of armed forces personnel.

The Ombudsman said that, from the outset, her main objective was that her Office would gain a reputation for impartiality, professionalism and fairness across all of its work.

"Establishing confidence and credibility with key stakeholders plays a vital role in the work of every Ombudsman. My previous professional and academic experience in this area has taught me that it is imperative to gain trust from the outset. Trust cannot be taken for granted, it must be earned. This has been a guiding principle behind all activities undertaken by myself and my small team in 2006.”

Upon her appointment as Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, Paulyn Marrinan Quinn established a series of founding objectives which have been critical in informing the work of her Office. These are:

• Acquainting herself fully with the ethos of the Defence Forces, its human resources management systems and its internal ‘Redress of Wrongs’ system.

• Adopting best practice procedures in case management systems.

• Providing a commitment to the highest standards of customer service in all of the Office’s activities.

• Rolling out a co-ordinated communications campaign to explain the role and remit of the Office to all of its stakeholders.

In presenting her Annual Report today, Paulyn Marrinan Quinn paid tribute to the Ombudsman for the Armed Forces in Canada, Andre Marin, whose experience she drew on in establishing her Office. The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces represents the first such dedicated office in Europe.

She also paid tribute to her small team who supported her work in 2006. The first staff appointment to her Office was made in June 2006, followed by the second appointment in September.

Photo of Launch