Hearings needed into Air Corps whistleblower claims – Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for an Oireachtas inquiry into the claims made by Air Corps whistleblowers 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 whistleblowers and I will be seeking cross party support for it.
“Informal research made by one of the whistleblowers, 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.
“A number of former Air Corps personnel frustrated with the lack of state action to help them with their illnesses they believe to be caused by toxic chemical exposure during their time in the Air Corps have initiated court action against the State.
“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 Baldonnell, County Dublin, which were not acted on.
“In Australia, a parliamentary inquiry was established in order to investigate the health and compensation concerns of RAF workers exposed to toxic chemicals in the maintenance of particular aircraft.
“This inquiry made a number of recommendations including a compensation scheme and enhanced healthcare for those affected.
“In contrast this Government has dragged those affected through the courts, failed to publish relevant documents and has refused to answer all but the most basic questions in the Dáil on this issue.
“I am calling on all TDs to support this motion and help put pressure on the Government to ensure that action is taken to address the issues raised by whistleblowers and ensure that those affected receive the healthcare they need.”