Sinn Féin Defence Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the government must now initiate a comprehensive investigation into health and safety procedures at Casement Aerodrome and that its terms of reference must be broad enough to ensure it is able to examine the serious allegations made by serving and retired members’ of the Defence Forces.
“It is now time for the Government to act in the best interests of the Defence Forces and carry out a full review of health and safety protocols at Casement Aerodrome over the last three decades, which must be thorough, transparent and with terms of reference that allow for an in-depth examination of how chemicals and other toxic materials were managed.”
“It must also include the inclusion of oral testimonies from past and present personnel who served there and an independent assessment of their health and general well-being to ascertain if they have suffered as a result of their service at the base.
Please read the press release in full on the Sinn Féin website.
It should be pointed out that the state already has in its possession the “Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005” which includes a review of chemical management as well as oral testimonies from serving personnel. This report actually predates the whistle-blower allegations and was created in 2014.
Unfortunately the report was carried out for the State Claims Agency with a view to fighting affected personnel in the High Court, rather than help ill serving & former personnel.
Even though “Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005” has the potential to save lives, Minister Paul Kehoe refused to waive privilege or release the review when asked by Aengus Ó Snodaigh in a recent Parliamentary Question.
Please read the parliamentary question here.
DELAY – DENY – DIE
The priorities of the Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors is firstly to prevent further unnecessary loss of life amongst survivors and secondly to improve the quality of life of survivors by reducing unnecessary suffering.
Both the Royal Australian Air Force & the Armed forces of the Netherlands have offered templates as to how to approach unfortunate workplace chemical exposure issues with competence, fairness, justice & urgency.
We urge that all responsible organisations in the state such as political parties, government departments and the Defence Forces to work together to commit the state to provide the following for survivors as an ex. gratia scheme with no admission of liability by the state.
Current & future legal cases should be allowed to take their natural course unhindered whilst all survivors are cared for equally by the state.
Read more about our demands below.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Air Corps made a settlement in the Workplace Relations Commission on 19 April 2017 as compensation for the bullying and mistreatment of an Air Corps health and safety whistle blower that had raised workplace safety concerns; the way the robust anti-bullying controls he previously mentioned appear not to be working in practice within the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20007/17]
Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
As the Deputy may be aware, any proceedings before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) are handled confidentially, therefore, I cannot comment in either the positive or negative in any matter which may come within the jurisdiction of the WRC. Indeed, the WRC will not publish details of any individual case or the identity of any applicant. As regards the procedures in place within the Defence Forces to deal with bullying I would like to reiterate that it is Defence Forces policy that all personnel have a right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity and to carry out their duties free from any form of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment. While military life entails robust and effective military training, such training must, however, take place in a professional service environment that fully respects individual human dignity. Bullying and harassment of any kind are wrong and are not tolerated within the Defence Forces. They are entirely unacceptable in themselves and wholly incompatible with a successful and modern organisation.
All known incidents of such behaviour are properly investigated bearing in mind the need for due process which requires fairness to all parties to the complaint. Through the induction process and general notifications, the non-tolerance of unacceptable behaviour is stressed to all members of the Defence Forces. The formal and informal procedures in force are there to encourage any individual who wishes to make a complaint. Procedures for dealing with complaints of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment are set out in Defence Forces Regulations. Complaints of unacceptable behaviour can be dealt with at different levels, either in an informal approach or formal manner. The overall aim is to ensure that the complaint is dealt with, in the first instance, at the lowest level possible. Informal complaints can be resolved directly by the complainant with the assistance of a third party if required. Such third party can include any member of the Defence Forces who has the trust and confidence of the complainant. Specially trained Designated Contact Persons (DCPs) are also available to assist complainants.
The formal procedure requires that a complaint is made in writing. These are dealt with by the military chain of command either through the legal/disciplinary process or by administrative action.
No disciplinary proceedings have been taken by Irish Army Air Corps management against the perpetrators of the bullying & mistreatment of the Health & Safety whistle-blower because the perpetrators are Irish Army Air Corps Management