The Government is coming under increased pressure to launch an investigation into missing Defence Forces inspection reports which were allegedly destroyed.
he calls for an independent probe follow reports in the Irish Examiner which revealed that junior defence minister Paul Kehoe has ruled out any investigation into the disappearance of health and safety reports from the air corps, despite being told by a whistle-blower the documents were deliberately shredded.
The State is being sued by six former air corps members who claim their chronic illnesses were caused by their exposure to toxic chemicals while working as technicians in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell.
The missing safety reports date back to the 1990s when all six allegedly injured air corps members worked in Baldonnel.
Despite both the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence saying the reports cannot be found, opposition politicians claim to have had sight of the documents and say that they raise concerns as to the management of the working environment in Casement Aerodrome.
Yesterday, this newspaper revealed that, in April, Mr Kehoe received a protected disclosure alleging that a named official ordered the shredding of the documents.
Despite this, Mr Kehoe last week told Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh that he could only offer “speculative” reasons as to why the reports are missing and ruled out an inquiry into their disappearance.
Responding to this newspaper’s report yesterday, Fianna Fáil defence spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said allegations the reports were deliberately destroyed in order to cover up knowledge of health and safety concerns were “extremely serious”.
“The suggestion from the minister that the reports in question, which are from different inspection periods and from different reporting years, have vanished and that this is somehow due to change over to an electronic system or documents were misplaced over time is difficult to believe,” she said.
Read more on the Irish Examiner website