Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for an Oireachtas inquiry into the claims made by Air Corps whistle-blowers that Defence Forces personnel suffered serious health consequences over decades as a result of toxic chemical exposure.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“I have drafted a Dáil motion calling for the establishment of a special Oireachtas committee to conduct relevant hearings into the claims made by Air Corps whistle-blowers and I will be seeking cross party support for it.”
“Informal research made by one of the whistle-blowers, provided to the Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe, raises questions over a number of deaths of former serving Air Corps personnel. Currently 73 deaths have occurred to personnel aged under 66 with the average age of 50.”
“The research has pointed to an unexplained, higher than normal concentration of very rare illnesses among relatively young former Air Corps personnel. They have called for a full health survey of serving and former Air Corps members, and those who worked in the Aerodrome to be carried out.”
“The aim of survey would be to try and quantify fully the scale and range of the health issue which they have linked to daily exposure to dangerous, corrosive and carcinogenic chemicals in areas of the Air Corps base.”
“The State was aware of these concerns following a number of reports Health and Safety drafted as early as the 1990s which highlighted dangerous working conditions and chemical exposures in Casement Aerodrome, in Baldonnel, County Dublin, which were not acted on.”
Please read the press release in full on the Sinn Féin website.
DELAY – DENY – DIE
The Irish Examiner revealed today that the whistle-blower – one of three who has previously raised concerns about staff’s exposure to chemicals – has announced his decision to retire early.
His decision comes two months after telling Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe that he has not received assurances from Defence Forces hierarchy that he is not being targeted for making protected disclosures.
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said a list of deaths compiled by one Air Corps whistle-blower requires explanation.
The list, the existence of which was previously reported in this newspaper, contains the details of more than 70 deaths of former Air Corps staff that the whistle-blower believes may be connected to chemical exposures at the force’s headquarters in Casement Aerodrome.
She described the revelation that a whistle-blower is to retire early as ‘shocking’.
“I’m very concerned about the treatment of whistle-blowers and people making disclosures, as some arms of the public service are not dealing with them as comprehensively or fairly as they should,” Ms Murphy said.
Fianna Fáil Defence spokesman, Jack Chambers, said the whistle-blower’s decision “demonstrates a dysfunction in the complaints process” and will act as a deterrent to anyone else who is thinking about coming forward.
“This is symptomatic of the general malaise that has been allowed to fester within the Defence Forces under the current Minister. Whistle-blowers who feel that their only next option is to retire demonstrates a dysfunction in the complaints process and it certainly doesn’t encourage others who have issues of concern from engaging with the process.”
Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…