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FORCES DRUGS TESTS SHOCK.

Byline: JOHN KELLY

FOUR members of the Defence Forces have tested positive for illegal drugs under compulsory tests.

Since November, 1992, 1,402 members, chosen randomly from all ranks in the forces, have been checked.

Defence Minister Michael Smith said the target of testing 10 percent of the Defence Forces had been achieved.

The tests are similar to those used for athletes and cover a range of illegal drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, amphetamines and heroin.

No details of who was caught, their rank or the drug involved, are divulged but the Minister said that anyone with a confirmed positive test was discharged or retired.

The tests were introduced after two years of negotiations that involved the Force's representative associations, the Attorney General, and the Judge Advocate General.

Mr Smith said: "The implications of drug abuse in an organisation where personnel have access to firearms are too obvious to require elaboration."While there have been relatively few drug related problems in the Defence Forces, it is recognised that the Defence Forces, as a component of the wider community, mirror the community at large."

The minister said the primary objective of the testing was deterrence.

"A randomly selected member of the Permanent Defence Force may be required at any time to provide a urine sample which will be tested.

CAPTION(S):

ARMY: Tests
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2004
Words:222
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