76. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps personnel that suffer from occupational asthma. (Question 10344/18 asked on 28 Feb 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.
I am advised by the military authorities that it would be necessary to examine the medical file of each individual Air Corps personnel to determine if any persons have any particular medical condition. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not practical to do this. 
As I indicated in my previous reply to your PQ 30640/17 on 29th June 2017, in relation to discharges from the A...

77. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps personnel that have been medically discharged or had service extensions refused due to occupational asthma. (Question 10345/18 asked on 28 Feb 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.
I am advised by the military authorities that it would be necessary to examine the medical file of each individual Air Corps personnel to determine if any persons have any particular medical condition. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not practical to do this. 
As I indicated in my previous reply to your PQ 30640/17 on 29th June 2017, in relation to discharges from the A...

102. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if all the recommendations of the 2016 health and safety inspection report at Baldonnel have been implemented; the timeframe for the completion of outstanding recommendations; if a further inspection is scheduled by the Health and Safety Authority to examine compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6933/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): On 21 October 2016, the HSA issued its Report of Inspection to the Air Corps. This Report listed a number of matters requiring attention which included the areas of risk assessment.
The Air Corps as a consequence of this HSA report have implemented an improvement plan, which was conducted over eight phases and completed in December 2017.
I have been informed by military authorities that the HSA has formally noted the high level...

2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to carry out a medical or health audit of serving and former members of the Air Corps similar to that undertaken in Australia in order to identify those that may have been exposed on an ongoing basis to toxic chemicals during their service. (Question 3490/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Air Corps)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Given the possibility that there is a major health scandal hidden in the Air Corps due to bad health and safety standards, is it not logical that an audit or survey of the health of serving members and ex-serving members be carried out to determine the scale of the health problems in Ireland, similar to the survey that was undertaken in Australia when that country became aware of serious exposure of serving members to deadly chemicals?
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34. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to follow the approach of other states in addressing concerns raised by Air Corps personnel in relation to the issue of toxic exposure. (Question 3179/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy will be aware, 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. The military authorities have informed me 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 completio...

46. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action which will be taken on the Air Corps chemical exposure scandal in view of the receipt of the whistleblower’s views on the O’Toole Report. (Question 3606/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a priority for me. In September 2016, I appointed an independent third party to review allegations made in a number of protected disclosures relating to health and safety issues in the Air Corps which were received in late 2015 and early 2016.
The report of the independent third party was received by the Department in June 2017. Although the report found that...

140. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Air Corps personnel stationed at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel in each of the years 1980 to 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3223/18 asked on 23 Jan 2018 - Air Corps Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available given that it spans a period of thirty five years and the work involved in investigating and extracting records would require significant human resources. 
With the support of the Chief of Staff, my focus is on ensuring that the Defence Forces are staffed in a manner that will enable them to continue to deliver the services required of them by Government.
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124. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the dates since 2000 of mandatory drugs testing carried out at the Air Corps, Casement Aerodrome; and the initials of surnames tested on each occasion. (Question 55156/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The unique and challenging nature of military service requires that military personnel are free from the presence or influence of any controlled drug or substance.  The Defence Forces conduct Compulsory Random Drug Testing of all employees with approximately 10% of Defence Forces personnel tested annually.
Such testing was introduced within the Defence Forces in 2002.  The military authorities have informed me that collection of...

76. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the steps taken by his Department to increase the capacity of the Air Corps to provide priority air transfers for medical treatment in view of the fact that the service was suspended in 2016. (Question 52872/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Air Corps Operations)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Air Corps provides a broad range of services in accordance with its primary security role.  It also undertakes a diverse range of non-security-related tasks on an ‘as available’ basis. This includes providing an inter-hospital service on an ‘as available’ basis to the HSE, providing for the transfer of patients, including priority 1 patients, to the UK using Air Corps Aircraft.
The inter-hospital service is overseen by the ...

531. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the reason he indicated (details supplied) further to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 1383 of 7 November 2017, when the question related to the current gloves being used by Air Corps personnel for protection against toxic chemical exposure was found to have been inadequate and if there was an oversight on procurement of health and safety personal protective equipment; and if he now will answer the question posed. (Question 48165/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Air Corps Equipment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Deputy will appreciate that it would be wholly inappropriate for me to comment in respect of any matters relating to ongoing litigation and I deemed the wording of his previous question to be such as to potentially encroach into the remit of the Courts in relation to the litigation referred to in my reply. 
However, I wish to assure the Deputy that I have been advised by the Military Authorities that Air Corps personnel ar...

233. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of chemical risk assessments on record with the Air Corps group formation health and safety office. (Question 42130/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As this matter pertains to litigation which is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.
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36. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department contacted the companies or persons that carried out the 1990s safety reports into aspects of the Air Corps’ safety procedures at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, on behalf of the State agency Forbairt in order to ascertain if they might still have copies of the reports that his Department claims to have lost. (Question 32262/17 asked on 11 Jul 2017 - Air Corps Operations)

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: This is a simple question and, to some degree, a follow-up to an earlier question. It seeks to nail down what actions the Minister, the military authorities or his Department have taken to track down at least four health and safety reports on Air Corps installations which were carried out in the 1990s and have vanished. Are we to depend on the Irish Examiner’s Joe Leogue’s investigative journalistic skills to unearth more information, as has been the case to date?
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2278. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will instruct an independent third party to carry out an investigation into the reason Forbairt inspection reports dating from the 1990s cannot be found in view of his Department’s failure to locate the Forbairt files and in further view of the possible significance of these missing documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26895/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Minister of State at the Department of Defence, (Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D.); As I indicated to the Deputy in my letter of 17 May 2017, I was advised by the Military Authorities that there was a report on measuring CO fumes from aircraft complied by Forbairt in 1995 and a further report on monitoring air contaminants in workshops in 1997, which was also complied by Forbairt. 
Unfortunately, following an extensive search and the Milita...

656. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the 2014 internal Air Corps report was made available to the independent third party appointed to investigate protected disclosures regarding health and safety issues at Casement Aerodrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25557/17 asked on 30 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As I indicated to the Deputy in my letter of 17 May 2017, an internal report was compiled by the Air Corps in 2014. The report was compiled at the request of the State Claims Agency in relation to a particular litigation case and as such is litigation privileged.
In line with the terms of reference for the Independent Review into alleged failings of the Air Corps in the area of Health and Safety with regard to the use of toxic ...

657. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he or his predecessor were provided with the 2014 internal Air Corps report on health and safety issues at Casement Aerodrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25558/17 asked on 30 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 to 659, inclusive, together.
The position with regard to these reports is as set out in my letter to the Deputy dated 17 May 2017. As outlined in my letter, the internal report was compiled in relation to a litigation case. 
The Deputy will be aware that during 2016 the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) conducted inspections at the Air Corps premises at Casement Aerodrome Baldonnel on thre...

658. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department or the military authorities have provided the reason Air Corps inspection reports carried out by Forbairt in the 1990s have gone missing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25559/17 asked on 30 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 to 659, inclusive, together.
The position with regard to these reports is as set out in my letter to the Deputy dated 17 May 2017. As outlined in my letter, the internal report was compiled in relation to a litigation case. 
The Deputy will be aware that during 2016 the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) conducted inspections at the Air Corps premises at Casement Aerodrome Baldonnel on thre...

659. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the 2014 internal Air Corps report on health and safety issues at Casement Aerodrome prompted a review of health and safety management at the aerodrome at the time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 25560/17 asked on 30 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 to 659, inclusive, together.
The position with regard to these reports is as set out in my letter to the Deputy dated 17 May 2017. As outlined in my letter, the internal report was compiled in relation to a litigation case. 
The Deputy will be aware that during 2016 the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) conducted inspections at the Air Corps premises at Casement Aerodrome Baldonnel on thre...

266. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a military police investigation has been commenced to ascertain under whose orders documentation of Air Corps air quality tests were destroyed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24894/17 asked on 24 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As I indicated to the Deputy in my letter of 17 May 2017, an extensive search was undertaken by the military authorities to locate the two reports complied by Forbairt in 1995 and 1997. The military authorities also consulted with Enterprise Ireland (which superseded Forbairt). However, it has not been possible to locate the reports. I am advised by the military authorities that there are no plans to carry out an investigation...

267. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a military police investigation has commenced to ascertain whether the failure to maintain health and safety standards and the subsequent illnesses caused to staff of the Air Corps breached military law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24895/17 asked on 24 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As I indicated in my responses to other recent Parliamentary Questions on this issue, a small number of former and serving Air Corps personnel are suing the Minister for Defence alleging personal injuries arising from exposure to workplace chemicals. You will appreciate that given that these matters are subject to litigation, I am constrained in relation to commenting. 
However, I am advised by the military authorities that t...

699. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will consider removing the ban on non-commissioned officer, NCO, pilots in order to address the pilot shortage, as was done in the 1940s during the Emergency. (Question 24454/17 asked on 23 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Government is committed to maintaining the establishment of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel, comprising of 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence. The manpower requirements of the Permanent Defence Force are monitored on an ongoing basis in accordance with the operational requirements of the three services. Personnel are posted on the basis of operation...

318. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if, when an Air Corps CASA aircraft was refused entry into Swedish airspace, this was due to the fact the submitted paperwork completed by his Department failed to meet the necessary requirements of the Swedish authorities; if he will provide the requirements that must be met when filing paperwork for an Air Corps plane to enter foreign airspace; and the reason on this occasion those requirements were not met. (Question 23788/17 asked on 18 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): As the Deputy will be aware, the Air Corps operates two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which are unarmed aircraft and primarily used for sea fisheries protection and maritime patrolling. They are also on occasion tasked with providing support such as military transport to the wider Defence Forces.  It is a condition of diplomatic clearance that the Air Corps pass details, via the Department of Defence, of each proposed fli...

50. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the support the Air Corps has been able to provide when assisting emergency services dealing with serious gorse and forest fires; the type of equipment available to the Air Corps when attempting to extinguish such fires; and his plans to upgrade or modify its existing air fleet in order that it is better equipped to assist in tackling out-of-control fires in view of the damage caused by gorse and forest fires in recent weeks. (Question 23195/17 asked on 17 May 2017 - Air Corps Equipment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The White Paper on Defence (2015) outlines the fact that Defence Forces’ capabilities are primarily developed for security purposes and this remains the key capability driver. In this context, the White Paper sets out the investment priorities for the Air Corps. A unique feature of Ireland’s defence policy is the extent to which these capabilities are used towards other ends.
The Deputy will appreciate that while the Defence F...

325. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a person (details supplied) appointed to investigate protective disclosures into health and safety issues at Casement Aerodrome is empowered to compel witnesses to give evidence and make findings; when they are due to conclude their investigation; and if these findings will be made public. (Question 21007/17 asked on 03 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 and 326 together.
The position is that in September 2016, I appointed an independent third party to review allegations made in a number of protected disclosures relating to health and safety issues in the Air Corps which were received in late 2015 and early 2016. The terms of reference for the review were as follows – 
“The review shall encompass a review of all relevant documents held by ...

326. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will address concerns that a person (details supplied) appointed to investigate protective disclosures into health and safety issues at Casement Aerodrome does not have the relevant qualifications to investigate the health and safety risks as they relate to hazardous chemicals and possible serious health complications for personnel that were tasked with handling these materials. (Question 21008/17 asked on 03 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 and 326 together.
The position is that in September 2016, I appointed an independent third party to review allegations made in a number of protected disclosures relating to health and safety issues in the Air Corps which were received in late 2015 and early 2016. The terms of reference for the review were as follows – 
“The review shall encompass a review of all relevant documents held by ...

327. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department, when requested, will disclose the chemicals being handled by serving and retired Air Corps personnel when working at Casement Aerodrome from the 1990s onwards. (Question 21009/17 asked on 03 May 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 327 and 328 together. 
As the information being sought is currently the subject of legal proceedings, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.
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