Catherine Murphy T.D. (Kildare North)Public Accounts Committee
Watch Deputy Catherine Murphy question Mr. Ciaran Breen, Director of the State Claims Agency and Mr. Pat Kirwan, Head of Enterprise Risk, also at the State Claims Agency, about the failure of a decade of Risk Management Section, Heath & Safety Management System audits at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.
The State Claims Agency audits at Baldonnel commenced in 2006 and continued as the Irish Air Corps were investigated by the Health & Safety Authority in 2016 for serious breaches of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005. Breaches that including the very basic failure to provide PPE or chemical training.
It took the threat of legal action by the Health & Safety Authority as well as 2 years & 9 months of intervention to finally close the HSA file on what their own inspectors described as the most serious case of chemical misuse in the history of the state.
It should be noted that the State Claims Agency were not only aware from 2013 that the unprotected chemical exposures at Baldonnel were an ONGOING LIVE ISSUE, but bizarrely failed to intervene to prevent further exposure once this knowledge was in their possession.
It took the actions of three whistle-blowers in 2015 to bring the ongoing toxic chemical Health & Safety failures at the Irish Air Corps to the attention of the Minister for Defence and also to the attention of the Health & Safety Authority.
Why did the State Claims Agency fail to notice the high rate of untimely mortality, the high rate of suicide, the high rate of sick leave, the lack of PPE records and the lack of any chemical training records in 10 years of supposed audits.
Why did the State Claims Agency fail to act in 2013 when they did become aware that personnel were still being needlessly exposed to dangerous chemicals without PPE and without any chemical safety training?
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
Catherine Murphy T.D. (Kildare North)
Public Accounts Committee
Deputy Murphy questions Mr. Ciaran Breen the Director of the State Claims Agency, regarding the agency’s stance on claims taken agains the Irish Air Corps regarding unprotected toxic chemicla exposure.
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]
To be clear Minister Paul Kehoe & Taoiseach Leo Varadkar received this Protected Disclosure in December 2017, issued a receipt and have ignored since.