Five Defence Force members faced courts-martial last year

Five Defence Force members faced courts-martial last year
Five members of Ireland’s Defence Forces faced either summary or limited courts martial last year.

A private was dismissed from the Defence Forces after failing in his appeal while another private left the country before his trial date, meaning it has been adjourned indefinitely.

The information on Courts Martial held by the Defence Forces last year shows that five members faced either summary or limited courts-martial last year, while three other members brought appeals against earlier decisions.

The most serious outcome was that faced by a private who failed in his efforts at the Court of Appeal (Military) on a number of charges that had already been proven at a court-martial.

Three related to the negligent performance of a duty contrary to Section 166 of the Defence Act 1954, and on one of those charges the Private was dismissed from the Defence Forces, while he was also reprimanded for ill-discipline.

The appeal was dismissed.

A Corporal did succeed in an appeal against an earlier decision that they had disobeyed a lawful order, but failed in an appeal against a ruling of ill-discipline.

An Airman failed in an appeal against an earlier finding that they had gone AWOL for two days and one hour but succeeded in having a decision of ill-discipline held against them quashed.

As for summary Court-Martial trials last year, in the case of a Private who was facing a number of charges of negligent performance of a duty and ill-discipline, the accused was discharged from the Defence Forces prior to the trial date and left the jurisdiction.

The Defence forces said: "Trial adjourned indefinitely while accused remains outside the jurisdiction."

At a different trial a captain was found not guilty of two charges, including one of assault, while a gunner was found guilty of assault, behaving in an insubordinate manner towards a superior officer and ill-discipline, resulting in a sentence of detention for two months but suspended for three months, and two severe reprimands.

A corporal at a limited court-martial trial was found guilty of assault and was fined 10 days' pay and given a severe reprimand, while another corporal was found guilty of six charges, including ill-discipline, and behaving in an insubordinate manner towards a superior officer. Punishment comprised a total of eight days' pay and a number of reprimands including two severe reprimands.

A Summary Courts Martial consists of a military judge sitting alone, while a limited courts martial can only be convened by the court martial administrator (CMA) on the direction of the Director of Military Prosecutions to deal with more serious offences against military law and/or the criminal laws of the State and in which a military judge presides alongside a Court Martial Board (which is similar to a jury).

Military judges are appointed by the President, as is the Judge Advocate-General (JAG), while the Director of Military Prosecutions is appointed by the Government.

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