Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe has told the Dáil he did not take the controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam during a recent visit to Mali.

Mr Kehoe said he was instead prescribed the drug Malarone because that was more suitable for a short visit.

He said this was in line with the expert advice given to him and he had to take the medication before, during and after his trip there.

However, the Minister confirmed that medical advice for members of the Defence Forces currently serving in Mali prescribes Lariam.

The Minister said he has to rely on this expert medical opinion.

Mr Kehoe also told the Dáil that his department is facing 52 litigation claims from current and former members of the Defence Forces who allege injury as a consequence of using Lariam.

It is alleged the drug can cause depression and panic attacks in a minority of users.

The drug manufacturer Roche took Lariam off the market in Ireland on 31 July. It remains available in other jurisdictions. 

In August a former head of the British Army, Lord Dannatt, apologised to troops who took the drug while under his command.