Fianna Fáil Leader, Micheál Martin TD has said that there is a sense that the Government has attempted to bury the story of Air Corps personnel being exposed to highly dangerous chemicals, and that concerned whistleblowers have been ignored.
Deputy Martin raised the issue during today’s Leaders’ Questions where he directly challenged the Taoiseach to answer why the State was so slow in investigating circumstances raised by whistle blowers at Baldonnel?
“It is extraordinary that staff exposed to chemicals were not provided with occupational health surveillance.
“The Taoiseach must publish all internal reports pertaining to both the exposure of Air Corps personnel to dangerous chemicals, and the concerted attempts to ignore the concerns of whistle blowers.
“In his response, the Taoiseach failed to explain what happened in 2015 when the protected disclosure was made and why the then Defence Minister, Simon Coveney didn’t respond.
“If someone makes a protected disclosure, it’s incumbent on the Minister to respond, or ensure that they are aware that their disclosures are being investigated.
“The accusation by the whistleblowers that the Air Corps failed to issue personal protection equipment to all personnel exposed to harmful and toxic chemicals in their day-to-day working environment is an extremely serious accusation, and one, which I believe, warranted a speedier response than given by the Minister at the time.
“Every member of the Defence Forces must be provided with whatever equipment is needed to protect their health and safety, and practices and procedures must be put in place to ensure compliance with regulations,” concluded Martin.