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The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., welcomes the appointment of Mr. Tony McCourt as Ombudsman for the Defence Forces

The President, on the recommendation of Government, today appointed Mr. Patrick Anthony (Tony) McCourt as the new Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. The Ombudsman was selected following an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service.

Minister Shatter commented “I congratulate him and wish him every success in his new role as Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. Mr. McCourt brings to the position of Ombudsman wide ranging legal experience combined with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Defence Forces and all aspects of military life. No doubt he will meet the challenges presented by his new role with enthusiasm and contribute to the ongoing modernisation and improvement of the Defence Forces over the next three years by way of his work as Ombudsman.

Mr. McCourt was called to the Bar in 1980 and has been working as a practicing barrister in the Law Library since his retirement from the Defence Forces in 2010. Mr. McCourt joined the Defence Forces in 1963 as a cadet. Following a full and varied career he took up the position of Judge Advocate for the Defence Forces in 2001. He remained in this position until his appointment as Military Judge for the Defence Forces in 2007 where he presided over all courts martial until his retirement in 2010.

Mr. McCourt holds an MA in International Relations awarded by DCU and a Diploma in European Law from UCD. He is an accredited mediator with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution of London since 2011.


Notes for the Editor:

The appointment is subject to the terms of the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004.

The primary role of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces (ODF), as provided for in the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004, is to provide an independent appeals process for members of the Defence Forces who have processed a complaint through the internal Defence Forces redress of wrongs process but remain dissatisfied with the outcome or the manner in which the complaint was handled. The 2004 Act also provides that, subject to certain conditions, the Ombudsman may accept complaints directly from former members of the Defence Forces.

The first ODF, Ms Paulyn Marrinan Quinn S.C. was appointed by the President on 19 September, 2005 and served in office for a period of 7 years in total. Her term of office expired on 18 September 2012. Following an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service Mr. Tony McCourt was selected to fill the post for the next three years.

Mr. Tony McCourt’s appointment to the position of ODF is on a part time basis due to the significant drop in the number of Redress of Wrongs cases being initiated. The office of ODF is now well established and a number of the administrative and systemic issues identified by the ODF to date have been addressed and have contributed to improvements in procedures, practices and policies within the Defence Forces. In addition, an increase in the number of redress of wrongs complaints resolved by the Defence Forces own complaint handling process without the need for referral to the ODF has been noted in recent years. In 2009 21% of Redress of Wrongs complaints were resolved internally by the Defence Forces and in 2011 in the region of 46% of such claims were settled internally. There were 83 cases referred to the ODF and accepted for adjudication in 2011.

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