herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

No discipline taken for bullying in the Army since 2007

NOT a single member of the defence forces has been disciplined for bullying in five years, despite a series of complaints.

While 25 allegations have been lodged since 2007, no-one has been the subject of disciplinary action, Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed.

However, Mr Shatter insisted bullying is not tolerated within the defence forces.

The more than two dozen complaints were made through the redress of wrongs process, but seven were subsequently withdrawn.

A further seven were ruled on by the Minister for Defence and another four are currently with the Defence Forces' ombudsman. The minister categorised the remaining seven as "resting with the complainants". "The defence forces have no record of any disciplinary action being taken as a result of any of these complaints," Mr Shatter said.

The organisation's manual for dealing with work relationships allows for issues relating to bullying to be dealt with in an informal manner, he added.



Complaints

However, there are no centrally maintained records of the procedures when the complaint is handled informally.

In a Dail reply, Mr Shatter said: "Bullying behaviour is not tolerated within the defence forces."

The information was issued in response to a question from Laois/Offaly deputy Brian Stanley who queried how many complaints had been lodged in the past five years. Mr Shatter said development of a "positive and supportive" work environment is a key objective of the defence forces management.

New tactics to crackdown on bullying in the army were unveiled in 2003.

The guidelines were issued after recent studies identified bullying as an increasing problem within the defence forces.

A team of experts had been put in place to monitor the level of harassment amongst military personnel. "This is not a problem that can be solved by higher authority acting alone," then defence minister Michael Smith had said.

Mr Shatter insisted the defence forces have made "great strides" over the past 10 years.

comurphy@herald.ie

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