PDForra will back Air Corps whistleblower at hearing

The organisation representing enlisted members of the Defence Forces says it will support the Air Corps whistleblower who is facing possible dismissal at a Medical Board hearing today.

The whistleblower, who has made protected disclosures to Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe, is accused by military superiors of “chronic ineffectivity” due to anxiety and a “work- related industrial dispute”.

He had raised concerns surrounding workers’ exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals used by the Air Corps in cleaning and servicing its aircraft.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Authority led to the HSA threatening the Air Corps with legal action unless it implemented its recommendations. The whistleblower also alleged that earlier inspections at Casement Aerodrome in the 1990s produced reports raising concerns with the environment at the Air Corps HQ — and that these documents were destroyed.

In one protected disclosure he wrote that he was the victim of “defamatory allegations” by an official within the Air Corps which the whistleblower believes “was in effect an attempt to rebuke and intimate me, for highlighting genuine safety concerns”.

An independent review of health and safety management at the Air Corps prompted by claims by three whistleblowers — including the man facing the Medical Board today — stated it did not have access to records that would show that standards were met in Casement Aerodrome. The man had been summoned to appear before a Defence Forces medical board in August, but the hearing was adjourned until today.

PDForra, the staff representative association of the Defence Forces, has confirmed it will offer its assistance to the man at the hearing: “PDForra is preparing to assist, support, and advise the whistleblower in any way possible in this case. We will be offering every assistance to this individual.”

The Irish Examiner has asked the Department of Defence if Mr Kehoe is aware that these proceedings have restarted; if he is concerned there are efforts under way to discharge a whistleblower for a “work-related industrial dispute”; and if he plans to intervene in this matter.

A spokesperson for Mr Kehoe said that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on individual personnel cases: “However, the minister is fully committed to compliance with the requirements of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014, and to the protections contained in that Act.”

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