News Irish News

Saturday 23 March 2019

62 Defence Forces members kicked out in past 10 years after failing drug tests

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

More than 60 members of the Defence Forces were discharged from service in the past decade after testing positive for drugs.

A total of 78 Army soldiers failed drug tests, testing positive for substances such as cannabis and cocaine, during routine drug tests between 2008 and 2017, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of those who tested positive, some 62 were discharged from duty, while 16 others held on to their positions.

The latter opted to undergo targeted drug testing and continued their service after completing the programme.

In recent years, there has been a spike in the number of personnel testing positive for drugs, as well as those who being discharged as a result.

The Defence Forces are made up of Army soldiers, the Air Corps and the Naval Service. In 2017, a total of eight people failed the test, six of whom were shown the door as a result.

Two years before this, in 2015, that figure hit 15, which led to 14 members leaving the services.

In 2016, a total of 11 soldiers failed drug tests, which saw 10 of those being discharged.

In 2014, four members failed drug tests, of whom just one was discharged. In the previous year, 10 members tested positive and nine of these were discharged from service.

In 2011, the figure was almost half of that, as six soldiers failed tests and three were forced to call time on their service with the country's Defence Forces.

Several of those who were discharged since the programme was established in 2003 have also challenged the decision in the courts.

Gardaí launched an investigation in December 2017 after cocaine worth about €3,000 had been discovered at an Army barracks in Dublin.

Along with officers in Rathmines' Garda Station, the Military Police - who are responsible for investigating offences within the Defence Forces - were drafted in to investigate the discovery made at Cathal Brugha Barracks.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News