Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
QUESTION NO: 128
To ask the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 129 of 14 November 2017, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the State Claims Agency commissioned a retrospective report covering 1980 to 2007 to be carried out by the formation safety office Air Corps on much of Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell, which was issued on 6 February 2014; if the State Claims Agency carried out actions on receipt of the report such as issuing findings to the Minister for Defence, the Health and Safety Authority, the chief of staff of the Defence Forces or Casement Aerodrome authorities; and if it withheld it for future use or not as it saw fit in legal proceedings being pursued against the State. [53000/17]
Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
The SCA have informed me that in answering question 129 of 14 November 2017 it interpreted the request to relate to its audit programme carried out by its Risk Unit. They have also informed me that in August 2013 on receiving a claim in which it was alleged that personal injuries were caused by exposure to toxic substances in Baldonnel, the SCA emailed Litigation Branch and Claims Administration asking that a Liaison Officer (L.O.) be appointed to assist the SCA‘s investigations. The SCA also requested that the appointed LO prepare a detailed claims report setting out the background and circumstances of the claim. The SCA, although not privy to the decision, understands that the Formation Safety Officer was tasked with this request. The SCA subsequently received a report, in April 2014, titled “Chemical Exposure Report (1994-2005) (plaintiff name) Case” which was the only report furnished by the Defence Forces and related specifically to the period 1994-2005. As the report was requested by and provided to the SCA in the context of a claim, it is legally and professionally privileged, referring as it does to all the circumstances of the plaintiff’s claim. This report was prepared entirely for the conduct of the legal proceedings and its use was confined accordingly.
Further explanation: Almost 2 years before multiple whistle-blowers made protected disclosures to the Minister for Defence and over two years before the Health & Safety Authority investigated appalling Irish AirCorps chemical health & safety, the State Claims Agency were aware (after interviewing serving personnel in 2013/2014) that there were continuing serious chemical health & safety breaches in Baldonnel causing ongoing unprotected exposure & injury to personnel.
Rather than be responsible, save lives and do the right thing by informing the Health & Safety Authority that there were ongoing breaches of health and safety legislation at Baldonnel. This included the lack of provision of chemical training and the lack of provision of PPE (both recommended by Forbairt in 1997). The State Claims Agency callously and indeed negligently decided to sit on the report.