Five soldiers fail drugs testing at separate barracks
Five soldiers have failed random drugs tests at two military barracks.
They will now be given an opportunity to have an independent assessment carried out on their secondary 'B' samples before military authorities decide if further action is to be taken.
The five all proved positive during tests taken in recent weeks in a Dublin barracks and at another barracks in the east of the country.
Testing for drugs is carried out by special military teams on 10pc of the current 9,200 personnel in the Defence Forces annually.
Since the programme was introduced in 2003, 105 military personnel have tested positive. A total of 18,500 people have undergone the random testing over the last 12 years.
The tests are likely to be carried out at every military barracks across the State on a yearly basis. The teams call in unannounced and select their subjects at random.
While the results of the tests on the five soldiers have not yet been officially announced, it is understood cannabis was the drug involved in all five cases.
If their B samples also turn out to be positive, the five face three possible options: they can retire; be discharged or face withdrawal of a cadetship; or continue in service if they can make a case that taking the drug was inadvertent or the result of some circumstance, such as a spiked drink. They would then undergo continual targeting by the testing teams over an 18-month period.
A Defence Forces spokesman said an individual who tested positive for a controlled drug, as specified in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, would be subject to an administrative process, including the testing of a 'B' sample if requested by that individual.
"The individual is placed on administrative duties as deemed appropriate by his/her commanding officer for the duration of the process, without prejudice to the procedure," the spokesman said.
He added: "The abuse of any substance is contrary to the values and ethos of the Defence Forces and contrary to good order and discipline.
"The primary objective of compulsory random drugs testing is deterrence."
Any of those found positive can then appeal the decision on their future to the general commanding officer in their area.
In the past, some of those disciplined as a result of testing positive have challenged the decision through the courts.
Figures show that the highest number of positive results came in 2012 when 16 failed out of a total of 2,058.
There have been no positive tests by personnel whilst on overseas service.