PDForra to help Air Corps whistleblower facing dismissal

PDForra, the organisation representing enlisted Defence Forces members, says it will assist the Air Corps whistleblower facing dismissal next month.

The staff member, who is facing dismissal for “chronic ineffectivity” due to anxiety and a “work-related industrial dispute”, previously met with Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe to allege that an Air Corps official ordered the shredding of health-and-safety inspection reports detailing conditions at Casement Aerodrome.

The man was the second person to make the allegation, following a protected disclosure from another whistleblower which claimed that a named official ordered the destruction of the documents.

The State is facing legal action from a number of former Air Corps technicians, who claim their chronic illnesses were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at Casement Aerodrome.

It has been alleged that the inspection reports will show the Defence Forces knew since the 1990s its safety measures were not up to standard, and that they were destroyed as part of a cover-up within the Air Corps.

A spokesperson for PDForra said it will assist the whistleblower to ensure his rights under the Protected Disclosure Act are vindicated.

The alleged destruction of the reports was raised in the Dáil this week, with Fianna Fáil’s defence spokeswoman Lisa Chambers saying the reports had disappeared in “suspicious circumstances”.

“[Mr Kehoe] will understand why we — and I think the public — find it difficult to believe the suggestion that all four [reports] may have been lost in translation over to the electronic system or that, over time, they just coincidentally disappeared,” said Ms Chambers.

“In the absence of a realistic and reasonable explanation, people will draw their own conclusions.

“One must ask the question if there is a sinister motive as to why these reports are not available where they should be. Is there some reason or some motivation why somebody, person or group may have wanted to destroy these reports?”

Sinn Fein’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh said it is “inexcusable” that no investigation into the disappearance of the reports had been initiated.

“Does the minister of state seriously want us to believe that at least four health-and-safety reports into conditions in workshops, etc, at the Air Corps Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Co Dublin, have just vanished in an organisation that is scrupulous in retaining files?” he said.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said many former Air Corps members believed their chronic illnesses were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals while they worked at Casement Aerodrome.

“I have been alarmed at the possible clusters of very serious health anomalies existing in Air Corps personnel and former personnel, including autoimmune problems, chronic fatigue, bowel failure, heart conditions, mental health problems, a higher than normal number of birth defects among the children of those servicemen and servicewomen and, in certain cases, infertility,” said Mr Ó Snodaigh.

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