Written answers

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Department of Defence

National Drugs Strategy

5:00 pm

Photo of Peter KellyPeter Kelly (Longford-Roscommon, Fianna Fail)
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Question 59: To ask the Minister for Defence the number and rank of Defence Force personnel tested in 2004, 2005, and 2006 under the drug testing programme; the numbers and ranks of those who tested positive; the type and class of drugs detected; the action taken when a member tests positive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2798/07]

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
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A Compulsory Substance Testing Programme was introduced on 1 February 2002 as part of a Defence Forces Substance Abuse Programme. This followed a long consultative process involving the Office of the Attorney General, the Deputy Judge Advocate General and the Defence Forces Representative Associations.

The primary objective of Compulsory Random Drugs Testing is deterrence. In order to provide a credible level of deterrent, the testing programme has been devised to maximise the possibility of random selection for testing. A trained Drugs Testing Team is responsible for taking urine samples for compulsory random testing throughout the Defence Forces. Testing commenced on 14th November 2002 and the programme is now in its fifth year of operation. The target of testing 10% of the Permanent Defence Force has been achieved. A member of the Permanent Defence Force, randomly selected, may be required, at any time, to provide a urine sample which will be tested for evidence of use of controlled drugs, or the abuse or misuse of other substances, or for the detection of the metabolites thereof. A member of the PDF who refuses to provide a urine sample, or who provides a urine sample which tests positive, may be liable to retirement, discharge or relinquishment of commission or withdrawal of cadetship as appropriate under the provisions of Defence Force Regulations.

The following table outlines the number of Defence Forces personnel tested under the compulsory random drugs testing programme for 2004, 2005 and 2006. It also indicates the number of positive tests and the number and rank of those who tested positive.

YearNumber TestedPositive TestsNumber DischargedRanks of those testing positiveRemarks
20041,110444 PrivatesAll discharged
20051,238761 CorporalOne recommendation for discharge awaiting Judicial Review
20061,213751 Sergeant (RDF)Administrative procedures are ongoing for the remaining 2 personnel with positive tests

Personnel who test positive for controlled substances are liable for Administrative Discharge from the Defence Forces. The test is designed to detect usage of certain controlled substances as specified in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 as amended by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984, such as Amphetamines, Methylamphetamine, Cocaine, Ecstacy (MDMA), Barbituates, Benzodiazapines, Cannabis, Opiates and PCP.

The procedures following a positive test result are summarised as follows: 1. The individual is paraded by his/her Commanding Officer and informed of a positive 'A sample' test result and is invited to have his/her second sample, the 'B sample', tested at an alternative independent laboratory. 2. The individual will be restricted to unarmed duties pending the completion of administrative action. 3. Should the individual decline to have the 'B sample' tested, or should the 'B sample' result be positive, the individual will be paraded by his/her Commanding Officer and informed that administrative action will be initiated which may result in his/her discharge/retirement. The individual will be invited to make representations showing cause as to why he/she should be retained in service. 4. Having considered any representations from the individual, the Commanding Officer will make a recommendation to his/her Brigade/Formation Commander as to the retention or discharge/retirement of the individual. The individual will be paraded and informed of this recommendation. 5. The individual is also afforded the opportunity to make further representations directly to the Brigade/Formation Commander. 6. In the case of NCOs and Privates, following receipt of the Commanding Officer's recommendation, and having considered all representations made by the individual, the Brigade/Formation Commander decides on retention or discharge. 7. In the case of officers, the Brigade/Formation Commander will make a recommendation to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) as to retention or retirement of the individual and the individual will be informed of this recommendation. Having considered the recommendations of the Commanding Officer, the Brigade/Formation Commander and all representations made by the individual, the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) decides on the retention or retirement of the officer.

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