herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Soldier deemed too fat and unfit to serve has finished five marathons

A soldier, who is considered too fat and unfit to serve his country, has been given leave of the High Court to legally challenge a decision of the Minister for Defence not to allow him extend his military service
A soldier, who is considered too fat and unfit to serve his country, has been given leave of the High Court to legally challenge a decision of the Minister for Defence not to allow him extend his military service

A soldier, who is considered too fat and unfit to serve his country, has been given leave of the High Court to legally challenge a decision of the Minister for Defence not to allow him extend his military service.

As well as challenging a decision to discharge him from the Permanent Defence Forces next month, Private Denis Dowd will seek a declaration that a Medical Corps Instruction, insofar as it refers to obesity, is repugnant to the Constitution.

Michael Howard SC, counsel for Private Dowd, told Ms Justice Mary Faherty in the High Court, that Private Dowd's body mass index (BMI) is considered too high to allow him continue serve in the army despite the fact that he is a keen sportsman and runs marathons and can also run 10km races in less than 50 minutes.

Crude

Mr Howard, who was instructed by Private Dowd's solicitors O'Regan Little, told Judge Faherty that the method of assessing BMI used by the Defence Forces was crude.

He said other more accurate body fat indicators, including a skinfold calliper test, should have been carried out.

He said that if such a test had been applied it would have resulted in Pvt Dowd being given a medical classification that would have resulted in his service being extended.

Judge Faherty granted him leave to seek a judicial review of his situation and placed a temporary stay on his discharge from the Defence Forces. The matter was put back until mid-November.

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