Dáil Éireann - Volume 651 - 10 April, 2008

Written Answers. - Random Drug Testing.

Deputy Barry Andrews asked the Minister for Defence if recent court decisions have had implications for the Defence Forces’ drug testing policy; if members are still being randomly tested for drugs abuse; the procedures involved; and if further changes need to be made. [13497/08]

  Deputy Tom Kitt: The Defence Forces policy in relation to Drug Testing has not changed. This policy is based on the premise that unlawful possession, supply, or use of a controlled drug is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces. Drug and Substance abuse, because of its insidious and addictive nature, and because of the possible residual effects on the abuser, is particularly dangerous in the military environment and is wholly unacceptable.

The primary objective of Compulsory Random Drug Testing is deterrence. In order to provide a credible level of deterrent, the testing programme has been devised to maximise the possibility of random selection for testing. Testing by a trained drugs testing team commenced on 14th November 2002 and the programme is now in its sixth year of operation.

The recent High Court case to which the Deputy refers raised a number of issues around the procedures that apply following a positive test result. We are currently awaiting the written High Court judgement on the case. In anticipation of this, the relevant procedures are being reviewed. It is expected that this review, and any consequent changes to procedures, will be completed in the near future.

In the meantime, the programme of Random Drug Testing has not been affected. Tests continue to be conducted in accordance with the planned schedule. The target consists of annual testing of 10% of the Permanent Defence Force and 10% of all Reserve Defence Force (RDF) personnel who report on annual camp. Any positive results will be processed under the revised procedures.