Air Corps official denies file destruction

An Air Corps helicopter.

An Air Corps official has denied whistleblowers’ allegations that he destroyed documents central to a legal action against the State.

Six former Air Corps technicians are suing the State, alleging inadequate health and safety management of the cancer-causing chemicals they used, and that their unnecessary exposure to these substances has caused them to suffer chronic illnesses including cancer.

The State has denied this.

Health and safety reports on conditions at the time in the Air Corps headquarters at Casement Aerodrome are missing, with the Defence Forces speculating that these documents were misplaced over time.

Two whistleblowers have alleged that an Air Corps official ordered the destruction of the documents, with one of the whistleblowers naming the official in question in a protected disclosure to Paul Kehoe, the junior defence minister.

Mr Kehoe this week revealed that the named official has denied the claim.

“As I have previously indicated to the House, this matter was raised with me in correspondence where certain allegations were made that the documents had been destroyed,” Mr Kehoe said in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin defence spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

“The correspondence in question was also addressed to the chief of staff and to the deputy. I requested a report from the chief of staff on the actions taken on foot of the accusation,” said Mr Kehoe.

“He has informed me that the officer named met with the general officer commanding the Air Corps. The officer concerned has refuted the allegations made and it should further be noted that documents referred to were not military documents, nor did they carry any military security classification.”

The Irish Examiner has asked the Defence Forces if it is investigating the claim further, other than the meeting in question. No reply was received at time of going to press.

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