Use fingerprint machine or lose wages, staff told
CIVIL servants who have been refusing to use fingerprinting machines for the past three years have been threatened with having their wages cut off.
Around 50 clerical officers based in the Garda National Immigration Bureau in Burgh Quay in Dublin maintain that it is the job of gardai to use the five fingerprinting machines installed there.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan confirmed that the staff had now received a letter telling them they would be subjected to disciplinary action if they did not agree to use the machines before the end of the month.
The Garda Press Office confirmed that the staff had been told they would face disciplinary action including "immediate removal from the payroll" if they didn't comply.
Commissioner Callinan said that he had run out of patience with the staff represented by the Civil and Public Service Union because of the length of time it was taking to get them to use the €23m Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
"A number of their colleagues in other offices are using this and it is a cause of great disappointment to me that it just hasn't happened," he said.
There are 43 other AFIS machines in locations such as Dublin Airport and the Refugee Applications Tribunal.
They allow fingerprints to be scanned instantly instead of being taken using the traditional 'wet ink' method. The fingerprints can be then checked against a computer database to help detect people using multiple identities, welfare fraudsters and terrorism suspects.
The Dail's Public Accounts Committee heard yesterday that just 35pc of people from non-European countries applying for residency permits have been fingerprinted for their GNIB cards. That means that the remaining 65pc who attended GNIB headquarters in Burgh Quay were given GNIB cards containing no fingerprints as a result of the dispute.
The committee also heard that dissident republicans had posed a real threat to Britain's Queen Elizabeth during her visit here last year.
The Commissioner said: "There was a very sinister level of activity by a number of people who can loosely be described as dissident members of the IRA."