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Defence Forces set to shell out €130k for random drug tests


There were 63 fails in 5 years

There were 63 fails in 5 years

There were 63 fails in 5 years

The Defence Forces are set to pay around €130,000 to a private company to carry out random drug testing on its personnel in the next four years.

An average of 12 members of the Army, Navy and Air Corps tested positive for illegal drugs each year between 2012 and 2016.

A further four failed as a result of missing the tests.

The military is now seeking tenders from companies to provide drug-testing services in the coming years, with the intention of screening around 2,000 personnel in Ireland and overseas annually.

The estimated value of the contract is €130,000 excluding VAT, according to tender documents.

Testing will be carried out on a random basis.

Currently, military personnel are tested for illicit drug use by means of urine samples.

However, the tender documents note that hair testing may be required over the course of the new contract.


Hair-follicle drug tests can determine patterns of illicit drug use or the misuse of prescription medication over a period of around three months. They can be used to test for specific drugs or drug classes.

A spokesperson for the Defence Forces said that compulsory random drug testing has been in use for more than 10 years.

Of the 63 personnel deemed to have failed random drug tests during a five-year period to 2017, six were discharged, 23 were discharged by purchase, and four were retained but required to undergo targeted drug testing.

A total of 14 were recorded as "service no longer required", while others retired or were retained without conditions, according to data released in response to a parliamentary question.

The contract was previously held by Alere Toxicology from 2012 to 2016.

It was paid a total of €199,673.