Handling of safety claims - Note of caution on Air Corps files

CAUTION should be observed when comparing the characterisation of claims of a Defence Forces safety cover-up by Air Corps whistleblowers as “malicious” with the “disgusting” remark made by former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan in relation to Garda whistleblowers.

True, both comments involved serious allegations of wrongdoing made by whistleblowers and both concerned rejections of allegations.

But, while Callinan was defending the indefensible, the Air Corps may be correct in stating that safety reports from the 1990s were misplaced “with the passage of time”.

Indeed they may have, after almost three decades, been deliberately destroyed, not to frustrate legal action but simply to make room for new material. It is normal practice for many organisations to destroy such material after a period of 10 years or so. These records were on the shelves since the early 1990s.

However, considering the cost potential of legal claims and noting that the army deafness suits cost more than €300 million, it is essential that a full investigation be carried out into exactly what happened. That is not a decision that should be left to the Defence Forces for obvious reasons.

It is now up to Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe or his boss, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (who has also taken on the Defence portfolio) to do the right thing.


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