Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
QUESTION NO: 531
To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason he indicated (details supplied) further to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 1383 of 7 November 2017, when the question related to the current gloves being used by Air Corps personnel for protection against toxic chemical exposure was found to have been inadequate and if there was an oversight on procurement of health and safety personal protective equipment; and if he now will answer the question posed. [48165/17]
Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
The Deputy will appreciate that it would be wholly inappropriate for me to comment in respect of any matters relating to ongoing litigation and I deemed the wording of his previous question to be such as to potentially encroach into the remit of the Courts in relation to the litigation referred to in my reply.
However, I wish to assure the Deputy that I have been advised by the Military Authorities that Air Corps personnel are provided with protective gloves as part of their Personal Protective Equipment which conform to European standards.
I have also been advised that the Air Corps Formation Safety Office selects and approves all gloves for use by all personnel in the Air Corps.
Minister Kehoe must be reminded of the F1-11 Deseal / Reseal scandal in the Royal Australian Air Force whereby thousands of personnel were injured by chemical exposure.
In this scandal the RAAF personnel did have PPE but it was discovered, well after the fact, to be inadequate and in some instances PPE gave only 4 seconds of protection. We strongly urge that Minister Kehoe is not complacent on this issue and that he ensures that the foundations of further injury to Air Corps personnel are not being currently laid.
Minister Kehoe MUST ensure independent oversight of PPE selection or at the very least competent verification that the PPE chosen is adequate for the task .