SOLDIERS mounting a legal action over the army's use of controversial medication have rejected claims by the defence minister Tony Killeen that they are properly screened beforehand.

Forced to address mounting concerns over the anti-malarial drug Lariam in the Dáil recently, Killeen said soldiers were checked for underlying medical conditions that may prevent its use. This has been denied by the group who claim a number of soldiers were diagnosed with depression before receiving the drug.

One female soldier had been given anti-depressants after childbirth and was given Lariam two years later.

Further concerns have now been raised as to the potential effects of the medication on fertility.

An increasing number of Defence Forces (DF) personnel have reported health issues and the possibility that they could be a direct result of taking the medication while on overseas missions.

Lariam has for years been linked to a host of side effects in certain people, including nightmares, depression, fatigue and suicidal tendencies.

However, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and the DF believe the "benefit-to-risk profile" remains acceptable.

Killeen recently told the Dáil that it was unknown how many soldiers if any had been diagnosed with having "Lariam toxicity".

However, he said: "Three members of the Defence Forces had been treated for serious symptoms which may have been caused or contributed to by Lariam, although there is nothing conclusive in this regard."

These claims were dismissed by the soldiers' group.