Last June the Irish Examiner revealed that Defence Minister Simon Coveney had ordered an independent investigation into the allegations, which were made by a whistleblower.
The whistleblower has further alleged that information was withheld from an internal investigation into the claims, and that misleading information was submitted to this original inquiry. In subsequent correspondence the unidentified complainant also told the minister that they had been penalised for raising the matter.
The disclosure was made to the Minister under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, legislation that was introduced to protect whistleblowers against reprisal in instances where they reveal information relating to alleged wrongdoing in their workplace.
A department spokesperson has confirmed the investigation has concluded. “The investigation has recently concluded and the report is currently under consideration. The findings will be made available when the Minister has completed his consideration of the report.”
Sinn Féin TD for Donegal North East Pádraig MacLochlainn raised the matter in the Dáil following the Irish Examiner report, and asked Mr Coveney if he was concerned over the allegations.
“I have been assured by the military authorities that there are no airworthiness issues arising from the allegations,” Mr Coveney said.
The minister said that claims that the whistleblower has been penalised for making the allegations against the inspectors is a matter for the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.
“The Ombudsman will investigate the complaint and report to me with his findings and recommendations. I will then consider the Ombudsman’s report and issue a final determination on the matter,” Mr Coveney said at the time.
The Air Corps’ 2015 operations included 277 maritime patrols, 68 air ambulance operations, over 370 completed emergency aeromedical service missions and 32 wildlife surveys.
One of the Air Corps’ high profile missions in 2015 was providing security and transport for members of the joint delegation of Irish and British officials during the visit of Britain’s Prince Charles to Ireland last May.