'Isolated and vilified': Air Corps informant says he’ll retire early

An Air Corps whistleblower is to take early retirement from the Defence Forces, less than two months after telling the junior defence minister that he had received “continuing and unwarranted treatment” for making protected disclosures on health-and-safety issues.

Last November, the whistleblower wrote to minister of state Paul Kehoe and asked him to “clarify his position” as to his ongoing situation within the air corps.

In writing to Mr Kehoe, the whistleblower included signed statements from Air Corps personnel, the contents of which he said supported his claim that the authorities were attempting to “isolate and vilify” him, and turn his colleagues against him.

Last September, a military investigating officer ruled on a complaint the whistleblower had made against his commanding officer, regarding a delay of nearly three years in the processing of paperwork concerning his continuation of service.

The whistleblower had alleged the commanding officer’s failure to process this paperwork was as a result of a protected disclosure he had made. The investigation found that the time taken to process the paperwork was not reasonable, but said disciplining the commanding officer, as per the whistleblower’s request, was not proportionate.

As part of his findings, the investigator said it is “important” that the whistleblower “be assured that he will in no way be penalised or prejudiced, for having made any protected disclosures”.

The whistleblower told Mr Kehoe that he has yet to receive any such assurances from his superiors, and that continued attempts to marginalise him contravene protected disclosure legislation.

Earlier this month, the whistleblower wrote to the Defence Forces chief of staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, to inform him of his decision to retire ahead of the mandatory age, due to his superiors’ response to the outcome of his complaint against his commanding officer.

“I believe I have no other option but to retire from the Defence Forces, due to the lack of protection being afforded to me and the adverse health effects of same,” the whistleblower said.

His commanding officer had told the investigation that the whistleblower’s complaint was the latest in what was “a consistent pattern of vindictive and bullying behaviour” against him.

In his written response to the findings, general officer commanding the Air Corps, Brigadier General Seán Clancy, said he noted “with disapproval” the redress sought by the whistleblower.

However, the whistleblower has provided Mr Kehoe with signed statements by other Air Corps personnel. One of the statements, seen by this newspaper, recounts an instance when one Air Corps staff member said he was precluded from a meeting he had arranged after he was seen speaking to the whistleblower. The other Air Corps personnel recalled a flight sergeant complaining about the extra health-and-safety measures required since the whistleblower made his disclosures.

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