Wednesday 26 October 2016

Negotiations underway to keep airports open on days of garda industrial action

Cathal McMahon

Published 18/10/2016 | 20:35

Gardaí still operate passport control at Terminal 2 in Dublin airport
Gardaí still operate passport control at Terminal 2 in Dublin airport

The Department of Justice has confirmed that it is "exploring options" for dealing with immigration control at Ireland's international airports ahead of planned days of industrial action by gardaí.

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Members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) are expected to withdraw services on four Fridays in November.

One of the key roles carried out by gardaí is immigration control at Irish airports including Cork, Shannon and Dublin's Terminal 2. has learned that concerns have been raised by airlines and airport management that flights and services at the airports could be affected on the days.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald confirmed: "The Department is exploring with AGS [An Garda Síochána] and DAA [Dublin Airport Authority] options for dealing with immigration control in the event of the planned Garda action going ahead."

A spokesman for the DAA, who operate Dublin and Cork airports, said: "This would be a matter for the Department of Justice. Gardaí carry out this responsibility on behalf of the Department."

At Dublin Airport, the largest in the state, gardaí carry out immigration duty at Terminal 2 but in Terminal 1 civilians working for the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) operate passport control.

Plans are currently at an advanced stage for the full civilianisation of passport controls at Dublin Airport.

In the meantime a source said those working for INIS are unlikely to be in a position to work at Terminal 2 on the day of the industrial action. The source added that these officers are also unlikely to be able to deal with passengers from Terminal 2 being redirected through Terminal 1. has learned that concerns have been raised about the situation by both the airlines and airport managers.

A spokesman for Ryanair said "Passport control is a matter for the airports". 

Around 10,500 members of the GRA and a further 2,000 sergeants and inspectors are expected to withdraw labour on November 4, 11, 18 and 25.

This leaves around 300 to 400 Superintendents and higher to protect the country. Should the industrial action take place garda management is likely to bring in the 789 reservists, 529 probationers and the 450 students in Templemore to help shore up the service.

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