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Five Irish soldiers fail drugs test at barracks

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Five Irish soldiers have failed a random drugs test at two separate military barracks.

The five will now be given an opportunity to have an independent assessment carried out on their B samples before the military authorities decide whether further action is 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 annually by special military teams on 10pc of the current 9,200 Defence Forces personnel.

Since the programme was introduced in 2003, a total of 105 military personnel have tested positive. A total of 18,500 people have undergone the random testing over the past 12 years.

The tests are likely to be carried out at every military barracks across the State on a yearly basis and the teams call in unannounced and select their targeted figures at random.

While the results of the tests on the five soldiers have not yet been officially announced, it is understood that 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.

They can only 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 and undergo continual targeting by the testing teams over an 18-month period.

A Defence Forces spokesman said an individual who tests positive for a controlled drug, as specified in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 as amended, is subject to an administrative process, including the testing of a B sample, if requested.

"The individual is placed on administrative duties as deemed appropriate by his/her Commanding Officer for the duration of the process, with prejudice to the procedure," the spokesman said.

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 4 out of 1,086 personnel tested positive when the programme started in 2003. This increased to 7 out 1,905 in 2007, dropped to 6 out of 1,362 in 2011 and up to October last year, only two had tested positive.

Barry Duggan and Tom Brady