Dáil Éireann – Oral Question 38 – 26th June 2018 – Irish Air Corps Protected Disclosure

Mr. Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South-Central )

Question No. 38

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has received a protected disclosure from a member of the  Defence Forces (details supplied); if he has responded to the disclosure; and the action that has been taken on foot of the disclosure. — Aengus Ó Snodaigh. [27762/18]

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To be clear Minister Paul Kehoe & Taoiseach Leo Varadkar received this Protected Disclosure in December 2017, issued a receipt and have ignored since. 

Dáil Éireann – Oral Question 7 – 10th May 2018 – Irish Air Corps Survivors

Mr. Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South-Central )

Question No. 7

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005 will be released in order to provide former members of the Air Corps who are now chronically ill with information relating to the level of exposure they suffered in view of his recent call for candour and transparency in cases regarding the health of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter

This relates to a matter that has been ongoing for a while. Given the current controversy around the checks for cervical cancer, there is a need for transparency in publishing reports that will help people suffering health consequences so they can manage future health needs.

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 05/12/17 – State Claims Agency

Seán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)

QUESTION NO: 141

Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if personnel employed by the State Claims Agency branch of the National Treasury Management Agency are eligible for bonus payments; and if so, the way in which these bonuses are structured and attained. [51615/17]

Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has informed me that it operates a discretionary performance-related payments scheme for eligible employees, which includes staff assigned to the State Claims Agency.

The scheme rewards exceptional performance having regard to the employee’s own performance, the performance of the employee’s area of responsibility and the overall performance of the NTMA. Performance-related payments are made in accordance with parameters approved by the Agency’s non-executive Remuneration Committee.

The overall amount of performance related payments made in respect of any year is also subject to the approval of the Remuneration Committee.

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Did “improvements” to Air Corps Health & Safety Risk Management Profile influence  bonus payments to State Claims Agency staff

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann – Other Question 11 – 24th January 2018 – Irish Air Corps Whistle-blower

Lisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Other Question No. 11

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the further action he plans to take in relation to Air Corps whistle-blowers.

Enterprise Risk Management Recognition for the Defence Forces

Defence Forces personnel being presented with certificates from the State Claims Agency in McKee Barracks in recognition of compliance with health and safety management system audit process.

In photo from left to right: Comdt Thomas Farrell (OC Gormanston, Defence Forces), Sgt Gerald O’Gorman (Unit Safety Officer, 30 Inf Bn, Kilkenny, Defence Forces), Fiona Kearns (Senior Enterprise Risk Manager, SCA), Comdt Noel Maher (Defence Force Safety Officer), Cpl Ross Hayden (Unit Safety Officer Air Corps Military Training College), Ciarán Breen (Director, SCA), Brig Gen Peter O’Halloran Assistant Chief Of Staff, Capt Bronagh McMorrow (Unit Safety Officer CIS Group DFTC), Pat Kirwan (Deputy Director, SCA), Comdt Conor Ryan (Formation Safety Officer, DFTC), Paul Burke (Enterprise Risk Manager, SCA)

See State Claims Agency website below…

Delay – Deny – Die

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 14/11/17 – Department of Finance – State Claims Agency

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

QUESTION NO: 129

To ask the Minister for Finance the reason the State Claims Agency did not seek assistance from the Health and Safety Authority immediately when it discovered in 2013 and 2014 that serious and ongoing breaches of health and safety legislation, including lack of risk assessments, lack of chemical training and lack of personal protection equipment, were causing ongoing harm to personnel of all Air Corps ranks and none; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48048/17]

Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)

The NTMA have advised me that the State Claims Agency did not undertake audits in the Defence Forces in 2013 and 2014.

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Mr. O’Snodaigh did not ask about audits in the Defence Forces in this instance.

He asked why the “State Claims Agency did not seek assistance from the Health and Safety Authority immediately when it discovered in 2013 & 2014 that serious and ongoing breaches of health and safety legislation, including lack of risk assessments, lack of chemical training and lack of personal protection equipment, were causing ongoing harm to personnel of all Air Corps ranks and none.”

We wonder is the Minister of Finance also being mislead by the State Claims Agency’s culpability & negligence in this scandal.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Call for Commission of Investigation into Air Corps claims

The Government is facing calls to establish a Commission of Investigation into whistleblower claims against the Air Corps, after the terms of an independent report into the allegations were branded ‘farcical’ by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

The Air Corps stands accused of failing to protect its technicians from the effects of cancer-causing chemicals, with whistleblowers claiming that decades of neglect has had a devastating effect on the health of members of the Defence Forces.

Yesterday, the Irish Examiner revealed that Christopher O’Toole, the author of an independent review of the allegations, said the terms of reference he was given for this probe were “impractical”, and that elements of the allegations made were issues outside his expertise.

Mr O’Toole also found that records demonstrating the Air Corps’ compliance with health and safety regulations “are not readily available”.

Whistleblowers had previously alleged that inspection records dating back to the 1990s were deliberately destroyed because they had raised concerns, but both the Government and the Defence Forces deny the claim, and say the reports in question were mislaid over time.

Mr Martin said he believes a Commission of Investigation is necessary: “The situation is far from satisfactory because with his opening comments the report’s author is essentially saying he cannot fulfill the terms of reference. From the Government’s point of view they established this review, they must have known the terms of reference could not be fulfilled. It’s farcical.”

“It seems to me there are no records of compliance with health regulations, which is very, very serious because in their absence one has to conclude that the probability is they were not complied with.

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…

Delay – Deny – Die

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 20/09/17 – Department of Defence – Defence Forces Properties

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

817. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the State Claims Agency has been tasked with taking health and safety risk assessments at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel; the date on which these assessments commenced; if they are still ongoing; the findings of these health and risk assessments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39834/17]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I am advised that the State Claims Agency do not undertake health and safety risk assessments in the Defence Forces. This function is the responsibility of the Defence Forces.

With regard to the Air Corps, the Deputy will be aware that the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), following a number of inspections in 2016, issued a Report of Inspection to the Air Corps on 21 October 2016, listing a number of matters requiring attention which included the areas of risk assessment.

The Air Corps as a consequence of this HSA report have implemented an improvement plan which is being conducted over eight phases. Seven of the eight phases have now been fully completed. The final phase is a continuous ongoing process. The implementation plan focuses on a number of areas, including risk assessments.

State has plenty of questions left to answer over Air Corps

Health and safety issues in the Air Corps have not gone away. Why is an investigation not underway, Joe Leogue wants to know

Revelations that the Air Corps has doubts over its own health and safety management raises further questions about the State’s treatment of former members who now suffer a litany of illnesses that they claim came as a result of their exposure to toxic chemicals.

Today’s Irish Examiner reveals that an internal Air Corps report from 2014 cast doubt over whether adequate protection was given to technicians who would have worked with cancer-causing solvents on a daily basis. It also states that staff could have ingested the airborne chemical because their tea room was in an adjacent room, and that their clothes could have been contaminated due to their lockers being in the room where the chemical was used.

The Air Corps could not find any records stating its staff had received any training on the dangers of the chemicals they were tasked with using.

The details of this report come a week after this newspaper revealed that the Government “cannot locate” documents that opposition TDs say show that health and safety concerns were raised more than 20 years ago.

The 2014 report’s admissions make the State’s refusal to investigate potential links between the workers’ illnesses and their exposure more inexplicable.

It also calls into question the State’s decision to drag claims made by former staff through the courts.

Read more on the Irish Examiner website.