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Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, TD, revises the Compulsory Random Drug Testing Programme in the Defence Forces.

The Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea has signed into effect new Defence Force Regulations covering the operation of the Compulsory Random Drug Testing programme (CRDT) in the Defence Forces.

The Defence Forces policy on drug and substance abuse or misuse is based on the premise that unlawful possession, supply or use of a controlled drug is incompatible with membership of the Defence Forces. Any member who tests positive is liable to be removed from the Defence Forces. A CRDT programme aimed at deterrence was introduced in October 2002.

A review of the existing regulations became necessary arising from a High Court judgement last year. As a result of this review Targeted Drugs Testing (TDT) is now being introduced in the Defence Forces in the context of the CRDT programme. Targeted Drugs Testing may be afforded to a member of the Defence Forces where there has been a positive result on a CRDT. TDT may be initiated following a positive result on a CRDT at the discretion of the relevant General Officer Commanding and with the agreement of the individual concerned for a maximum period of 18 months, during which time the individual will be required to undergo a maximum of 6 Targeted Drug Tests.

“The introduction of Targeted Drugs Testing is an additional measure that improves upon the current system and provides procedural safeguards and assurances to support the Defence Forces policy on a drugs free environment. These changes are being made in order to meet the parameters outlined by the High Court for the procedures to apply following a positive drugs test. However, I want to make it very clear that the policy of zero tolerance and maximum deterrence remains very much in place” stated Minister O’Dea.

Under the CRDT programme a target of 10% of Permanent Defence Force and Reserve Defence Force are randomly selected for testing each year. Since the commencement of the testing programme, a total of 8,918 tests have been conducted, with 35 tests yielding a positive result. To date, 21 members have been discharged as a result of positive test results.

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