Monday 5 December 2016

Whistleblower raises major Air Corps safety concerns

Published 06/06/2015 | 12:56

Simon Coveney Credit: Steve Humphreys
Simon Coveney Credit: Steve Humphreys

An independent investigation has been ordered over allegations that some Air Corps inspectors are not qualified to sign off on repairs to a number of the force’s aircraft.

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Concerns have been raised over the safety of the Defense Forces' aircraft after a whistleblower contacted Defence Minister Simon Coveney with information that military authorities had withheld details from an internal inquiry into Air Corps inspectors certifying sheet metal repairs and modifications without the required qualifications or experience to do so.

An independent investigation has been ordered by Minister Coveney, said a spokesperson for the Department of Defence.

No date has been set though for when the inquiry will go ahead, they added.

“The minister has directed that an independent investigation by an external competent expert is to be carried out into these matters. The terms of reference for the review are currently being drafted,” they said.

“The minister received a disclosure, and follow up correspondence, which alleges that a number of Air Corps Aircraft Inspectors have authorisation to certify sheet metal repairs and modifications without the required qualifications or experience to do so.”

Adding: “The military authorities have assured Mr Coveney that there are no airworthiness issues arising from the allegations.”

A spokesperson for the Defence Forces declined to comment when asked by Independent.ie.

According to the Irish Examiner, the whistleblower said they had been penalised for raising the matter.

Asked if this had been raised with Minister Coverny, the Department of Defense said: “In relation to the allegations of penalisation, the individual in question has been advised that, in accordance with section 20 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, the appropriate mechanism for members of the Defence Forces who feel they are being penalised for making a disclosure is to make a complaint directly to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces."

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