Minister of state for defence Paul Kehoe has said he has written to the Defence Forces seeking a report on claims that an Air Corps whistleblower is facing dismissal and that documents key to legal cases against the State were deliberately shredded.
The Irish Examiner recently reported that two separate whistleblowers told Mr Kehoe that a Defence Forces official ordered the destruction of health and safety reports that showed that the Air Corps’ management of the use of hazardous chemicals was lacking.
On Monday, this newspaper revealed that one of these whistleblowers is now facing dismissal from the Defence Forces.
In the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kehoe confirmed he was informed of the allegations.
“Certain allegations were made that the documents were destroyed,” Mr Kehoe confirmed.
“I have requested a report from the Chief of Staff on the actions taken on foot of the accusation. When the report is to hand I will consider what further steps may be required to take.
“I didn’t destroy any reports, nor am I aware of anyone destroying any reports but I have asked the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces to investigate this matter, to find out about these reports and what happened them and to the reasons why they are not kept on record in the Defence Forces.
“Regarding the individual in the Defence Forces and a dismissal, I only became aware of this, I don’t want to say an exact date, but I’ve asked for a report on that issue.”
Mr Kehoe angrily rejected opposition party suggestions that the Government has been slow to address the matter.
“We have lots of mentions of reports, but we actually have missing reports that have not been accounted for in highly suspicious circumstances, we have no review report from yourself in terms of the actual whistleblower allegations,” Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers said.
“So we’ve had very little progress Minister since we first raised this issue with you in the chamber.”
Six former Air Corps staff are suing the State over the chronic illnesses they now suffer, with more considering similar legal action.
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