Former planning tribunal judge to take Defence Forces role

Mr Justice Alan Mahon will retire for Appeals Court to take the position

The former chairman of the Planning Tribunal has been appointed as the new Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.

Mr Justice Alan Mahon will step down from his position on the Court of Appeal to take the role following his formal appointment by President Michael D Higgins on July 6th.

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces provides an independent appeals process for members Army, Navy and Air Corp personnel who have made an internal complaint and are unhappy with the outcome or feel the complaint was not treated fairly.

Most complaints tend to deal with defence forces members not being selected for promotion, training courses or overseas service.


The Ombudsman can also accept certain complaints directly from former members of the Defence Forces.

Mr Justice Mahon’s predecessor, Tony McCourt, worked part-time but the new role will be a full-time position due to an increase in complaints being referred to the office.

In 2016, Mr McCourt dealt with 111 complaints, up from 62 in 2010. Before his retirement he complained about delays in the complaint process and warned that waiting times will continue to mount unless the system is reformed

Mr Justice Mahon will be recommended for selection after applying for the post through the Public Appointments Service.

His term will last three years with the option to serve further terms. As a higher level civil servant, he will receive a salary of €96,267.

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe welcomed the Government's decision to put the judge forward for the position.

“No doubt Mr Justice Mahon will bring to bear his wisdom and extensive legal experience in fulfilling the role over the three year term of his appointment.”

Mr Justice Mahon (64) began his career as a barrister in 1976 before becoming a senior counsel in 1988. He was appointed as a judge of the Circuit Court in 2002 before taking over from Mr Justice Feargus Flood as the Chairman the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments in July 2003. It later became known as the Mahon Tribunal.

The tribunal, which was the longest and most expensive public enquiry in the history of the State, investigated corruption in the planning process involving several politicians and public figures.

In 2014, shortly after the conclusion of the tribunal, Mr Justice Mahon was appointed as a judge of the newly formed Court of Appeal.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times