Dáil Debates Other Questions 17/1/19 – Defence Forces Equipment

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

QUESTION NO: 11

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if all Defence Forces and Air Corps officers are trained in the use of respirators and-or breathing apparatus in the context of handling chemicals and toxic material; if the use of same is now mandatory; and the date on which it became mandatory. [1803/19]

This question relates to the change in the health and safety regime brought about in recent years because of disclosures from whistle-blowers, which have led to changes in health and safety in the Air Corps in particular. Are all Defence Forces and Air Corps officers trained in the use of respirators and breathing apparatus in the context of handling chemicals and toxic material which, in the past, were wrongly handled and possibly exposed people to poisoning and ill-health?

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I am advised by the military authorities that all members of the Defence Forces are trained in the fitting of the general service respirator as part of their basic training and that tests of elementary training are conducted annually in a respirator test facility. This training is in keeping with chemical, biological, radioactive and neurological (WTF?) training that all Defence Forces personnel undergo following basic training.

I am further advised by the military authorities that only those Defence Forces personnel who are required to work with chemicals and toxins are required to undergo respiratory protective equipment training. Such training is provided to members of the Defence Forces in accordance with the relevant health and safety legislation.

With regard to the Air Corps, I am advised that it uses two types of respiratory protective equipment depending on the type of activity being carried out. These are respirators, which are air purifying, and breathing apparatus, through which air is supplied. I am advised that personnel who require respiratory protective equipment training are trained as necessary.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

I welcome the Minister of State’s statement but part of the question was when did it become mandatory. The final part of the reply seems to suggest that not all Air Corps personnel are trained in the use of respirators. When exactly did it become mandatory for all Defence Force personnel to have this training? Is the training in full use currently?

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

With regard to the Air Corps, I am surprised that people who specifically deal with chemicals are trained in the wearing of respirators only if they are involved in dealing with these types of chemicals. Full training is given to these people and they undergo relevant retraining to ensure they are fully trained.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

The question is when that happened.

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I do not have a specific date but to my knowledge full training is carried out in line with what is required. I will come back to the Deputy with a specific date.

*****

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 04/04/17 – Department of Defence – Airfield Harvesting

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

698. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Air Corps at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel receives moneys from the annual harvesting of silage on the airbase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16654/17]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I have been advised by the Military Authorities that the Air Corps operate a ‘safe grass’ policy in order to reduce the hazards posed on the airfield in Baldonnel by bird populations. This policy is an integral part of the wider bird control management program, which is line with best international practices and seeks to reduce the risk of bird strikes during critical phases of flight.

The airfield at Baldonnel is cultivated with FESCUE grass which was specifically sown and grown to prevent birds landing and nesting in the grass and thereby being a hazard to the aircraft. A contractor is hired to top the grass at a height of 9 inches throughout the growing season. The clippings are returned. The frequent topping of the grass and the return of clippings are required to produce an appropriate level of soil fertility to support adequate grass growth. The crop type does not have the nutrient needs for grazed cattle silage and the clippings are required to maintain nutrient levels in the soil.

Accordingly, the Air Corps receive no funding from the annual harvesting of silage on the airbase. As there is no harvesting of silage, the issue of income from harvesting does not arise.


Minister Paul Kehoe T.D. again misrepresents the truth. Is Minister Kehoe misleading in his answers to parliamentary questions or are the Irish Army Air Corps misleading the Minister? Someone is giving misleading answers that is for sure.

Photos below taken in the past week and posted on an Air Corps related Facebook page.

This last photo taken 13th May 2017

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 04/04/17 – Department of Defence – Air Corps Equipment

Lisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

688. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the detail of the 2017 opening stock figure, current stock figure, cumulative new stock figure to date in 2017 and cumulative issued stock figure in 2017 for chemical hazard PPE respirators for technical personnel at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel; and if he will exclude military grade respirators used for military training purposes. [16143/17]

689. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the detail of the 2016 opening stock figure, closing stock figure, cumulative new stock figure and cumulative issued stock figure for disposable coveralls at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. [16144/17]

691. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the testing and selection criteria for disposable overalls in use by the Air Corps to insure they offer personnel adequate protection from the toxic chemicals in use. [16146/17]

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 688, 689 and 691 together.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to compile the information requested in the time available. My officials are working with the military authorities to obtain the information which will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Again Minister Paul Kehoe T.D. demonstrates that he is incapable of supplying simple answers to basic questions about the Irish Army Air Corps.  The answers to questions 688 & 689 are available at the touch of a button from the AMMS computer system.

It appears that either the Minister for Defence, the Department of Defence or the Defence Forces may have something to hide.