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Written answers

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Department of Defence

Air Corps

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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199. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the recognition in a review (details supplied) of Air Corps whistleblower claims that the author was not in a position to consider the substances in use or implications for human health arising from such use as these issues are outside their competence. [43179/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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200. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a comprehensive inquiry will take place into the health and safety regime in the Air Corps and compliance with that regime in a period stretching back over 20 years in view of a review (details supplied). [43180/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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201. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the description of a review (details supplied) by its own author as an informal review; and if a formal review will now take place. [43181/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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202. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the finding of a review (details supplied) by its own author that it is their view that a review of the kind envisaged by the terms of reference is impractical and therefore they can only comment in general terms on the safety regime; the way in which he plans to deal with this identified impracticality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43182/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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203. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the observation in a review (details supplied) that, in the context of a work environment subject to military discipline in which obedience to the instructions of a superior is a key requirement, there are obvious difficulties for a person raising safety concerns; his further views on the view of the informants in this matter that they were not able adequately to raise safety concerns and that when they did raise concerns these were ignored; and the action that will be taken to address the difficulties and concerns of the informants. [43183/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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204. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the observation in a review that the Defence Forces need to be able to demonstrate that an adequate system is in place to ensure that safety concerns can be raised by a member of any rank and to show that it has an ethos which makes safety the concern and responsibility of all; and the action he will take to achieve this. [43184/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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205. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the observation in a review (details supplied) that the military authorities need to ensure that the role of the Health and Safety Authority in relation to workplace safety is understood and that there is an effective system in place to enable persons to raise safety concerns. [43185/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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206. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the military authorities ensure that documentation and records detailing compliance with safety regimes exist and that they are readily accessible to staff as per the observation in a review (details supplied). [43186/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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207. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will authorise an independent and comprehensive health assessment of the informants' claims and of Defence Forces health and safety records in dealing with hazardous chemicals over the past 25 years. [43187/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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208. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the recognition in a review (details supplied) of Air Corps whistleblower claims that the author was not in a position to judge whether there is now or was at the relevant time an actual level of exposure which was in fact potentially harmful. [43188/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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209. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the observation in a review (details supplied) of Air Corps whistleblower claims that all Defence Forces personnel are supposed to receive a routine medical at regular intervals but there appears to have been no special provision for personnel involved in maintenance work or a special alert in relation to persons that may have handled toxic chemicals. [43189/17]

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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210. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take in view of the observation in a review (details supplied) of Air Corps whistleblower claims that risk assessment material which the author saw are not comprehensive enough to provide a clear view of the basis for the assessment made. [43190/17]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 to 210, inclusive, together.

I have made it clear that the health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a priority for me and therefore, I ensured that protected disclosures alleging exposure to chemical and toxic substances whilst working in the Air Corps in Baldonnel were investigated by an independent third party. I have furnished the report to those who made the protected disclosures and, before considering any further steps, I will await their views. In light of this and given that some of the allegations relate to matters that are the subject of litigation, commenced before the protected disclosures were made, it would not be appropriate to comment further.

Separately and in parallel to the independent review, following an inspection in 2016, the Air Corps has continued to work with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to improve its health and safety regime. I have been informed by the military authorities that the HSA has formally noted the considerable progress made to-date by the Defence Forces towards implementation of a safety management system for the control of hazardous substances. Subject to completion of the improvement plan the HSA investigation is closed. However, it must be noted that in the Air Corps health and safety is a matter of ongoing monitoring, supervision and adjustment.

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