Dáil Éireann Written Answers 23/10/18 – Irish Air Corps – University of Limerick

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)


To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of University of Limerick students that had been sent to Baldonnel for work experience. 43321/18

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

My Department facilitated work experience under the University of Limerick student Placement Programme for 3 students per year commencing in 1992 and ending with the 2008/2009 academic year.


  • The 51 UL work experience students who served over 2 decades at Baldonnel shared substandard working conditions with military personnel at Baldonnel.
  • UL work experience students were exposed in an unprotected manner to Trichlorethylene, Trichloroethane, Dichloromethane, Isocyanates, Hexavalent Chromium compounds and MANY more CMR chemical. WITHOUT any PPE. So no basic protection like gloves, no eye protection, no respiratory protection. 
  • UL work experience students were subject to hazing incidents (tubbings) just like their military counterparts.
  • The University of Limerick have so far refused to notify the affected students that they may have been exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals with lifelong consequences.
  • Of the admittedly  small number of UL work experience students we have been able to track down, 2 out of 3 are suffering life changing illnesses consistent with illnesses suffered by their similarly exposed military colleagues.


Epigenetic Harm and the Irish Army Air Corps

Epigenetics is the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- (ἐπι- “over, outside of, around”) in epigenetics implies features that are “on top of” or “in addition to” the traditional genetic basis for inheritance. Epigenetics most often denotes changes that affect gene activity and expression, but can also be used to describe any heritable phenotypic change. Such effects on cellular and physiological phenotypic traits may result from external or environmental factors, or be part of normal developmental program. The standard definition of epigenetics requires these alterations to be heritable, either in the progeny of cells or of organisms.

The term also refers to the changes themselves: functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA.

These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell’s life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently.

Read the full article on Wikipedia

Mental Health and the Irish Air Corp illness cluster

A new report by Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health in Ireland, has found strong public support for increased State investment in mental health services.

A survey carried out by the coalition found that 84% of respondents thought that the health service places too little focus on mental health.

The study found that the public are willing to invest more in mental healthcare when compared to other related healthcare programmes.

Mental Health Reform says staffing in mental health services is lower now than it was in 2008 and it is calling on the Government to boost investment in the area.

Note the graph below only includes personnel for whom we have death certificates for. We are in the process of verifying many more deaths, most of which relate to the earlier decades.


Prevention is better than cure.

If the government bother to medically & scientifically investigate the mental health illness cluster at the #IrishAirCorps where at least 13 serving & former personnel have killed themselves since 1980 they might learn something about environmental causes & triggers of mental health problems.

We suspect hydrocarbon fuels, engine exhausts, isocyanates, VOCs etc all have a part to play and the civilian population get exposed to these too but usually at lower levels.

So far the state have only sent in barristers. Think about it 65 men dead at an average age of 49 years and all the state can mobilise is barristers.

In the absence of military or government statistics on untimely deaths in the Irish Air Corps we created our own. We are happy to have these tested or even proven wrong by better statistics gathered by the state in a comprehensive, open and transparent manner. #WeAreNotStatisticians