Former army member Alan Nolan voiced his concerns over policy and treatment in the Defence Forces, but instead of being listened to at the time, he was ‘screamed at, shouted at, sworn at’
Alan, a former Company Sergeant who left the army in 2017, says his own life was made a misery early on in his career after he tried to have his record cleared of a false report lodged on his military file.
He was reprimanded for being late for work at Collins Barracks in Cork in 1996 the morning after he had spent all night in Cork University Hospital’s emergency department with his young daughter.
Alan disputed the way the matter had been handled and eventually a very senior officer came up with the idea of having the reprimand taken off his military file.
But he later found out it hadn’t been removed and then when he took the matter to the internal Defence Forces Redress of Wrongs process, which is supposed to deal with soldiers’ complaints, he endured “more hell”.
So, by the time he put in a Protected Disclosure in 2017 about deficiencies in the way private medical data is handled in the Defence Forces in addition to other serious wrongdoings, he had given up all hope for any chance of fair treatment in the army.
However, when he was in the army and working in the Central Medical Unit when the records system was brought in, nobody wanted to talk to him.
He says this attitude was always there, right from the very start of his career.
“I was screamed at, shouted at, sworn at and basically told that I had ‘fucked myself’ and my career by complaining about the way I had been treated in 1996, and on multiple other occasions,” he said.
“They never let me forget it and that culture still exists today.” He fears many other soldiers may also have similar issues in their careers. “You are pulled up out of the blue for no reason. This is especially the case if you dare to stick your head above the army parapet.
“I was always one of those people who believed in and tried to live by Defence Forces values.”
According to the website, these include integrity and the fact that each soldier should be “truthful, reliable and honourable”. Respect is another one, and the fact that each soldier “must treat comrades with dignity, respect, tolerance, and understanding”. Alan said:
I ascribed to all those values but the one I really liked was the Defence Forces’ value for so-called ‘moral courage’. This dictates that you must do what you know is right, not what is easier or popular.
“How wrong I and so many others have been over the years to think about doing what we know to be right when the reality is you will be severely punished for doing just that.
Read full article by Neil Michael on Irish Examiner website…