Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
QUESTION NO: 119
To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the State Claims Agency supplied the Health and Safety Authority with copies of its audits and or reports regarding the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 53026/18
Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
I have been advised by the State Claims Agency that it does not provide reports of Health and Safety Management System Audits conducted by the Agency in Delegated State Authorities (including the Defence Forces) to the Health and Safety Authority. I am advised that these are provided to the Delegated State Authorities only.
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 the 21st 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 on-going process. The implementation plan focuses on a number of areas, including risk assessment.
I wish to assure the Deputy that the health and welfare of the Defence Forces personnel is a high priority for me and the military authorities.
For 10 years BEFORE the Heath & Safety Authority were forced to investigate the Irish Air Corps, due to the ongoing safety risks to personnel, the State Claims Agency had been carrying out Health & Safety Risk Management System audits at Baldonnel.
In the eyes of the State Claims Agency the Irish Air Corps risk profile was continuously improving whilst personnel on the ground were still being exposed to toxic & CMR chemicals without appropriate PPE or training causing lifelong injures to themselves and their children.
It is now obvious that the State Claims Agency audits were incompetent especially considering it took the Health & Safety Authority 2 years and 9 months to close their investigation file on the Irish Air Corps.
The State Claims Agency audits need to be released to the Oireachtas without delay.