The Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D, today welcomed the publication of the Third Report of the Independent Monitoring Group.
In acknowledging the work of the Group the Minister thanked the Chairperson Dr. Eileen Doyle and the other members of the Group for the time and effort they committed in researching and reporting on this crucial issue. The Minister also confirmed that he “fully accepted and would work tirelessly to ensure the implementation of the 35 recommendations made in the Report”.
The Minister added, “I am pleased to note this Third Report confirms that the Defence Forces have endeavoured to implement the main recommendations in the previous report. While recognising that the Defence Forces had gone through a period of considerable structural change since the last Report the Minister went on to note “the fact that throughout this period of organisational change addressing issues related to dignity in the workplace remained high on the agenda is indicative of the importance attached to these issues by military management. It is vitally important that the dignity of all serving personnel in the Defence Forces is recognised and affirmed on an ongoing basis. This Report confirms that the culture of the Defence Forces continues to evolve positively. However, the fact that IMG continues to question whether best practice polices are being uniformly implemented across the Defence Forces is a concern. In this regard I have asked my Department to ensure that the IMG recommendation regarding establishing an Implementation Group to develop and manage an implementation plan for the recommendations contained in its Third Report is acted upon immediately. I look forward to receiving this plan before the end of October and to working with the Chief of Staff and my Department to ensure its implementation.”
The Report concludes that in 2014 the challenge remains, to continue to improve human resource management and institutional culture including dealing with human issues of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.
The IMG acknowledged that while conflict and its resolution in any workplace is challenging, it is even more complex in military organisations where the chain of command is paramount. While the Minister welcomed the many positive elements reflected in the IMG Report he also noted the IMG concern that some issues remain extant, including the manner in which corrective action is applied and gaps in the levels of awareness of bullying.
The Minister also welcomed the extension of the range of skills and expertise available to the Personnel Support Services (PSS) so as to meet new and emerging HR/personnel needs of individuals serving in the Defence Forces; the putting in place of a new and very advanced recruitment system for the Defence Forces and the development of a strong, relevant, effective and accredited training and education programme.
In concluding the Minister said “This is an important report and I acknowledge the wide body of Defence Forces personnel who have embraced the ‘Dignity Charter for the Defence Forces’. However, while we may have important policies and procedures we must also be able to fully stand over their effective and consistent implementation. Having regard to the issues raised by IMG the challenge now is to ensure that across all barracks and formations, an effective verification process is in place to ensure the implementation of best practice policies and to ensure these policies are being implemented on a consistent basis,”.
Note for the Editor:
The Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) was established in May 2002 by the Minister for Defence to oversee the implementation of recommendations arising from a report on the extent of harassment, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment within the Defence Forces.
The IMG published its first report (Response to the Challenge of a Workplace) in September 2004 and its second report in December 2008. The second report recommended that a further review of progress should take place before the end of 2013 and that the following should form the IMG:
· External Expert
· Representative of Defence Forces
· Representative of RACO
· Representative of PDFORRA
· Representative of Department of Defence.
The IMG also recommended that the review in 2013 should focus, appropriately, on how the Reserve Defence Force has developed. [The IMG did not include consideration of the Reserve in the 2008 review due to the process of re-organisation and phased improvement which was ongoing at the time].
Membership of IMG in 2013
The membership of IMG in 2013 was Dr. Eileen Doyle, External Expert and Chair, and representatives of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, RACO and PDFORRA.
Remit of Review in 2013
The remit of this review was to:-
1. Report on progress since the publication of the Second Report of the Independent Monitoring Group (December 2008) as proposed in the recommendations of that report.
2. Take account of any relevant developments within the Defence Forces and developments in employment law and practice.
3. Make recommendations as appropriate.
Approach to the 2013 review
The IMG addressed its terms of reference by:
¨ Examining the extent to which the recommendations of the IMG in 2008 had been implemented
¨ Examining all relevant reports, documents and instructions within the Defence Forces since 2008
¨ Identifying evidence of best practice by exploring the management of policies, procedures, programmes, levels of action and evaluation
¨ Seeking a variety of briefings from key personnel involved in developments in the Defence Forces
¨ Consulting individuals with specific roles in relation to the Defence Forces
The Third Report of the Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) presents a review of progress made by the Defence Forces since the publication of the IMG’s Second Report in 2008. The 2008 Report made a range of recommendations to improve human resource management, and training and education, so as to root firmly, dignity in the workplace, from initial training and throughout the military career.