Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (585, 586, 587)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

585. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Defence if he will confirm figures provided to RTE that there have been 11 suicides or self-inflicted deaths among soldiers who had deployed between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2012 and had previously been prescribed lariam, of which nine occurred within five years of their final deployment; and that there have been four suicides or self-inflicted deaths among soldiers who had deployed overseas between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2012 and who had not previously been prescribed lariam, of which all occurred within five years of their final deployment. [32085/13]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

586. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Defence without divulging names or other personal information, if he will confirm for each of the 15 suicides or self-inflicted deaths among soldiers who had deployed overseas between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2012, the date of the soldiers' last overseas deployment; if they had previously been prescribed lariam; and the date of the suicide or self-inflicted death, with the understanding that the families of each of the 15 soldiers have already provided this information to RTE to aid in the previously broadcast RTE investigation. [32086/13]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

587. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Defence if he will confirm figures provided to or cited by RTE that the total number of soldiers who deployed overseas between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2012 to areas where lariam was the prescribed anti-malarial comprised 4,293 individuals, and that the total number of soldiers who deployed overseas between 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2012 only to areas where lariam would not have been prescribed comprised 6,444 individuals. [32087/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 585 to 587, inclusive, together.

In May 2013 RTÉ asked the Defence Organisation for statistical information but used different figures when it broadcast the programme which forms the basis of your questions.

The information that was provided to them in relation to deaths from self-inflicted injuries is as follows:

“The Defence Forces Personal Management System does not capture data on the number of suicides. A review by the Defence Forces into 156 non-service related deaths among members of the Defence Forces in the period January 2000 to December 2010 shows that 25 were apparently of self-inflicted injuries. Of these, only one is recorded by a coroner as being “suicide”. Of these 25 deaths by self-inflicted injury, 9 had previously been prescribed Lariam. There is no evidence in any coroners’ inquests, nor any other evidence whatsoever, linking these deaths to Lariam. Moreover, according to expert advice, given the limited period of time during which Lariam remains in the bloodstream after a person stops taking it, it is extremely unlikely that Lariam could have been a contributory factor in practically all of these cases. Of the 25 deaths by self-inflicted injury, 16 were not prescribed Lariam and 4 of these had not served overseas.”

I am not in a position to disclose any information about individual deaths due to the relatively small number of individuals involved because it could lead to potential identification (or misidentification) of deceased service members.

RTÉ were informed that at least some of the information they sought is not easily accessible and has to be drawn from multiple databases. They were also told that it is not possible without manual checking to eliminate accurately multiple tours of duty. This would involve significant resources which are not available. Subject to that reservation, they were informed that for the period 1st January 2000 to 31st December 2012 approximately 6,498 tours of duty involving 4,293 individuals deployed to malarious areas where Lariam would have been the malaria chemoprophylaxis. For the same period, approximately 9,754 tours of duty deployed to areas where Lariam was not prescribed. No figure was given for the number of individuals involved on these tours.