Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has expressed concern over reports that another two former members of the Defence Forces, who it is believed were exposed to dangerous chemicals during their time of service with the Air Corps, have died in the last month.
This brings the figure to over 90 former members of the Defence Forces who have reportedly died prematurely as a consequence of exposure to dangerous chemicals.
The Wicklow TD said:
“Following their dangerous exposure to chemicals during their service in the Air Corps, a considerable cohort of former members have developed serious health issues. It is probable that there have been over 90 deaths as a consequence.
“Many of those who have succumbed to illness have suffered from cancer and neurological problems, and other chronic conditions, many of which have proven to be life altering for sufferers.
“Many are also at high risk of developing early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
“Young Air Corps members, many of them apprentices, were expected to handle dangerous chemicals without appropriate, or indeed in some cases any, safety equipment or clothing.
“There is an ongoing court case since 2013. At every juncture the government has dragged its heels. It has delayed the handing over of important paperwork, despite being ordered by the court to do so.
“The fact that the court case is still ongoing has been used by the government as a means to hide from answering important questions on the issue.
“The priority at this stage has to be the prevention of further unnecessary suffering, or death, amongst members of the Defence Forces, through continued exposure to chemicals. We also need to see that the quality of life of those that are currently suffering is improved.
“These individuals deserve fairness, and they deserve justice.
“I am calling on the government to come clean on this matter. There is international precedence that can be followed here.
“The Air Forces of the Netherlands and Australia have previously dealt with similar issues arising out of exposure to the same chemicals, with competence, urgency, and in a manner that was fair and just.
“The government must introduce measures to assist those who have fallen ill, along with a screening programme for all who have been exposed to these chemicals.”