You are very welcome to this section of the Ombudsman's website and thank you for taking the time to visit.
Win a prize!
The Ombudsman is one of the sponsors of the Graduate Online Youth Quiz which offers prizes to school goers from all over Ireland. By participating in this quiz you can win prizes such as: Trips to Strasbourg, ipods, xbox's, cash prizes, computer equipment etc. You can get further details from http://www.gradu8.net .
Read this actual case examined by the Ombudsman, and decide what conclusion you would make.
Is it important for you to know about the Ombudsman?
Most definitely, Yes! Public bodies e.g. Government Departments, County Councils etc. provide lots of different services. The Ombudsman may be able to help you, your family and friends if you have been unfairly treated by these bodies. In dealing with a complaint she can demand any information, document or file from the body relating to your complaint and there is no charge for making a complaint to the Ombudsman. You may make your complaint in writing, by telephone or by e-mail. You can even use a special on-line complaint form if you wish. You should also send in any relevant documentation or correspondence.
The Office of the Ombudsman is open from 9.15 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Friday, please refer to our contact details.. There are also a number of regional offices of the Ombudsman located around the country.
History of the Office
The law which set up the Ombudsman's Office in Ireland was the Ombudsman Act, 1980. Under this law the Ombudsman is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Dáil and the Seanad.
Ireland's very first Ombudsman was Michael Mills RIP, who was a very well known journalist, and he started in the job in 1984. He served until 1994 when Kevin Murphy was appointed Ombudsman. Before becoming Ombudsman Kevin Murphy had been a senior civil servant. Kevin Murphy was followed by the current Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly who took up the job in June 2003. She also happens to have been a well known journalist.
The Office of the Ombudsman investigates complaints about the activities of Government Departments, the Health Service Executive, and local authorities. Since 1984 we have helped over 70,000 people with valid complaints and advised and guided countless others, where we could, whose problems lay outside our remit. The Office deals with up to 10,000 queries from the public every year.
So, why have an Ombudsman and what exactly does the Ombudsman do? When we look at the way we live today it is quite evident that there is a huge involvement by the State in our lives. From the day we are born, the State is required by law to provide us with services and this obligation continues throughout our lives. These services include health and welfare benefits and services, housing, education, transport, employment, taxation and so many other areas that hardly a day goes by when we do not encounter the operations of the state in one form or another.
The Ombudsman is an independent person who, after a fair, thorough review of a complaint, decides if it is justified and if it is makes recommendations to the public body in order to resolve the problem. The Ombudsman is quite a useful person to know about when you want to get mistakes made by public bodies in Ireland corrected. If you have complained to the public body and they don't sort things out then the Ombudsman might be able to help you.
But where does the term 'Ombudsman' come from? Well the word 'Ombudsman' is Swedish and means representative or agent of the people. The title is used for both men and women. Sweden had the first ombudsman in 1809. Today there are over 120 Ombudsman Offices around the world.
There are a number of other ombudsmen in Ireland, and they look into different kinds of complaints. As mentioned earlier an Ombudsman is independent, impartial and provides a free service.
Most of the time public bodies deal with us in a satisfactory and efficient manner. However, at times the system breaks down and a person might need the help of the Ombudsman to put things right.
When the Ombudsman investigates a complaint she can either find in favour of the person who has complained or decide that the public body complained about has in fact acted correctly. If the Ombudsman finds in favour of the person who has complained she can help provide a remedy for what has gone wrong. For instance she can ask that an apology be made, or a grant or other benefit be paid which had been refused. If you read our Sample Cases you will see many examples of the type of complaints the Ombudsman deals with and how the Ombudsman has helped people in the past.