Eight members of the Defence Forces have been dismissed after testing positive for taking illegal drugs in 2015.
Last year, a record number of personnel tested positive for illicit drugs since the Defence Forces’ drug testing programme was introduced in 2003.
Now, the Department of Defence has confirmed that, of the 17 who tested positive in 2015, eight members have been discharged.
According to a spokeswoman, an additional seven are currently awaiting a decision on their cases while a further two are in service and are subject to targeted drug testing.
The spokeswoman said that the primary objective of the Defence Forces Compulsory Random Drugs Testing and Targeted Drugs Testing initiatives “is deterrence”.
“In order to provide a credible deterrent, the testing programme is devised to ensure that all Defence Forces personnel are liable for testing through random selection,” she said.
“All members of the Defence Forces are aware that they are liable for testing. Any member who tests positive is liable to be removed from the Defence Forces.”
She said that the unlawful possession, supply or use of a controlled substance is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces.
Gerry Rooney, general secretary of armed forces representative organisation PDForra, yesterday said the drug testing regime has PDForra’s full support.
He said that, with members of the Defence Forces, there is no room for error or mistakes in how they go about their jobs when they can be using ammunition and weapons.
“Colleagues depend on each other in situations, often overseas, where there is a real risk of injury or death and any members who have been taking illegal drugs can’t have any place in such an organisation,” Mr Rooney said.
He added that the level of drug-taking in the Defence Forces is a tiny minority and is very low compared to civil society.
He said that drug taking in the Defence Forces can not be tolerated from a workplace safety view point.
The Department of Defence spokeswoman said that information on the type of substances detected has been refused previously under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, on the grounds that the information could reasonably be expected to facilitate the commission of an offence.
The Department of Defence states that of the 1,184 tests in 2015, 98.56% proved negative.
The 17 positive tests represent 1.44% of the total tests completed.
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