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 Header Item Defence Forces Fatalities (Continued)
 Header Item Defence Forces Records

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter] I can only say to the Deputy that I am not optimistic that this will be resolved in a manner that would be fitting and appropriate. I wish it were so. I would very much like to achieve that outcome if it were possible.

Defence Forces Records

 127. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter in relation to the recently announced recruitment campaign for the Defence Forces, if he will be reviewing the admissibility criteria in relation to the visibility of tattoos; if there will be an appeal mechanism in place for persons whose application to the Defence Forces is refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13082/14]

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I understand the rule with regard to the visibility of neck tattoos was introduced in 2012. Will the Minister consider reviewing it? Is an appeals mechanism in place for individuals refused entry on these grounds?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In order to be eligible for enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force as a general service recruit, applicants must meet all of the specified criteria and standards for entry as laid down in Defence Force regulations and the associated administrative instructions. In this regard, paragraph 131 of Administrative Instruction A9 provides that "Tattooing above the collar of the shirt is prohibited". This criterion applies to all personnel who join the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force and is in line with requirements in other countries.

The purpose of this requirement is to prevent the induction of personnel who subsequently could not be deployed on ceremonial duties which form part of the functions of military personnel. In particular, I am advised that the reverse arms drill movement requires the tilting of the head forward and downwards on completion of the drill movement, which exposes more of the neck than is normally the case.

The military authorities have advised it is at the physical fitness testing stage of the selection process for recruitment that a determination on the matter of a tattoo is made. Where an applicant is found to be ineligible due to tattooing above the collar of the shirt, the applicant will be informed of this both orally and in writing. From time of being advised, an applicant has 72 hours to make it known, either orally or in writing, that he or she wishes to appeal the decision. A senior officer subsequently meets the applicant and makes a final decision on the matter.

There are no plans to review the admissibility criteria on the visibility of tattoos.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I am referring specifically to the case of Lee Walker from Wexford town. Originally, he passed the test in Cork but did not make the final list at the time. When he went for the test last year he passed the interview, fitness test and medical test but on the second occasion it was deemed his tattoo was too high, even though he showed me pictures in a still position and with his head tilted forward where the tattoo was not visible.

I realise that regulations and rules are in place, and he is probably outside the timeframe. An exception was made when Dave O'Riordan appealed in October or November of 2012 and he was allowed to join although he was over 26 at the time. Lee Walker is now 26. Will the Minister be conciliatory and consider giving him another chance? He has never wanted to do anything other than join the Defence Forces and it means so much to him.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I understand our Defence Forces are not in any way unique in this area. A number of armies, including the British, Australian and US armies, have a similar rule. I note what the Deputy said and I will look into the matter further. I am not familiar with the individual mentioned by the Deputy. I will make inquiries with the Defence Forces along the lines raised by the Deputy and I will write to the Deputy.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I thank the Minister. I received a letter from Lee Walker and if it is okay with the Minister I will forward it to him.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter If the Deputy has a letter he is very welcome to furnish it either directly to me or to my private secretary. He can simply pass on the letter with a compliment slip. There is no need for a covering letter, other than just to confirm it is from the Deputy, and I will revert to him after I have furnished it to the Defence Forces and sought an appropriate response.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I thank the Minister.


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