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Terms of Defence Forces probe approved
Ms Justice Ann Power (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

16 Jan 2024 / ireland Print

Terms of probe into Defence Forces approved

Ms Justice Ann Power, a judge of the Court of Appeal, is to chair a tribunal of inquiry that will look at the effectiveness of complaints processes linked to workplace issues in the Defence Forces.

The appointment was announced as the Government approved the terms of reference for the inquiry, which was recommended by an Independent Review Group set up to report on dignity and equality issues in the Defence Forces.

The inquiry will investigate whether there have been serious systemic failures in the complaints processes related to issues such as discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.

It will also have the power to investigate the response to complaints made regarding the use of hazardous chemicals within Air Corps’ headquarters at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

‘Wealth of experience’

Micheál Martin (Tánaiste and Minister for Defence) said that the Government would now seek the approval of the Oireachtas to formally establish the tribunal, and get work underway as “early as possible” this year.

The Tánaiste added that Ms Justice Power would bring “a wealth of experience” to her role as chair.

As well as a judge of the Court of Appeal, she is also a judge of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal, an independent judicial body that issues final and binding decisions on employment-related disputes within the World Bank.

She has previously served as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and has chaired the CervicalCheck Tribunal since 2020.

New working group

Separately, the Tánaiste has announced the appointment of Kevin Duffy as the independent chair of a new working group to develop a complaints process for civilian employees and civil servants who work with the Defence Forces.

Duffy is a qualified barrister and a former chair of the Labour Court.

The group that he will chair will include nominees from the Defence Forces’ representative associations, as well as the associations and unions that represent civil-service and other staff.

It will also include representatives from the human-resources (HR) units within the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence, as well as a representative from the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform.

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