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Ó Snodaigh supports pending court cases being brought by air corps personnel

23 January, 2017 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Defence spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the legal action being taken against the State by former members of the Irish air corps who claim past exposure to toxic chemicals has resulted in them suffering debilitating illnesses, is yet another example of how our service personnel have been let down when issues of health and safety arise.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“I understand that at least 6 cases are being taken against the State from personnel who joined the air corps as teenagers in the 1990s to work as apprentices in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

“The plaintiffs have described working with hazardous chemicals such as Trichloroethylene without having the proper equipment or receiving the necessary training to prevent exposure to these chemicals.

“This contributed to unusual symptoms when they were based in Baldonnel and, in later years, manifested itself into chronic and debilitating health conditions.

“It is worrying that the concerns of personnel were dismissed when first raised with the Air Corps doctor in the 1990s and the potential dangers of working with these chemicals were not explained nor more robust measures put in place to minimise the risk.

“This was a serious failure in the duty of care that Air Corps personnel should have been able to expect in the course of their duties and now, 20 years later, those whose health has been compromised are being forced to sue the State for compensation.

“The State’s determination to defend these cases and challenge the allegations is similar to the approach taken by successive governments towards soldiers who have suffered ill health as a result of taking the anti-malaria drug Lariam. The military authorities’ priority seems to be to rubbish the claims of our personnel when a complaint is made regarding negligence in an effort to avoid having to take responsibility for poor health and safety standards.

“I will now be raising the matter with the Minister Paul Keogh and I will be seeking an update on what measures are being put in place in response to a report by the Health and Safety Authority who in October warned the Air Corps that its workplace risk assessments were inadequate.” 

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