Soldiers will not be halted in their tracks by a 'glass ceiling'

GREATER opportunities for promotion to the officer ranks of the military are being created in the Defence Forces, writes Tom Brady. Defence Minister Willie O'Dea declared yesterday: "There should be no perception of a glass ceiling within the Defence Forces".

He said he firmly believed that every recruit should have a reasonable expectation of being promoted to officer level through his or her leadership qualities, ability and character.

He told the annual conference in Waterford of PDFORRA, the representative association for soldiers, sailors and airmen, that results were encouraging from this year's competition. Thirteen per cent of Permanent Defence Force applicants and 8pc of those from the Reserve secured cadetships, compared to 4pc of candidates without any military experience.

He said talks were to be held with the association on a commissioning from the ranks competition and this would give non commissioned officers a chance to compete for promotion to officer rank.

Mr O'Dea said: "I will be watching the outcome of this competition closely as it will inform my approach to this important issue into the future".

But association president Willie Webb accused brigade commanders of developing their own local policies on promotion while ignoring the agreed policies of Defence Forces headquarters.

He warned that this was totally unacceptable and would lead to serious demoralisation of key personnel.

Setting local goals and priorities, contrary to what had been agreed centrally, would create confusion and his association wanted a clean and transparent promotion system, which was uniformly applied throughout the Defence Forces.

Mr Webb said they would review this new development very closely and would take the inevitable injustices through the grievance procedures and the courts, if necessary.