56 Deaths among former Air Corps Personnel demands answers - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Defence, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, raised the issue of a protected disclosure from a whistle-blower in the Defence Forces, this afternoon during Leaders' Questions.
The protected disclosure lists the deaths of 56 former serving Air Corps personnel at the average age of 48.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
"There are currently seven cases being taken against the state by current and former serving members of the Air Corps.
"They believe that their exposure to Toxic Chemicals during their service has led to serious chronic and fatal illnesses, including cancer.
"This Government has taken no action to find out the extent of this scandal or the number of people that might be suffering as a result of it.
"Instead, it is fighting tooth and nail through the State Claims Agency to stop cases getting to the courts, forcing sick people to take a grueling journey for justice.
"Compare this with the Australian Government’s response: It set up a board of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into similar matters. It commissioned a survey of health outcomes for the relevant personnel. A healthcare scheme was put in place for those affected.
"The protected disclosure from the whistle-blower makes for harrowing reading. It is a list of 56 deaths of former serving Air Corps personnel. The average age is 48.
"All of the deaths specifically relate to those who died prematurely, before they reached the age of 66..
"It is based on the research of the whistle-blower himself in the absence of any state funded investigation into these matters. It is by no means exhaustive. I’m told that since the list was published that many more premature deaths have been identified.
"It is clear that successive Governments have failed in their duty of care to men and women who served in the Air Corps.
"This Government has an opportunity to do the right thing. We do not want to be here in ten years time, with a higher death toll, having failed to address this scandal.
"The Australian Government did not wait for the courts to decide. It took action. The Taoiseach must now accept that the time has come to order a full inquiry into these matters."