Airport to spend €2m on full-body security scanners
DUBLIN Airport is preparing to spend up to €2m on full-body scanners to screen passengers for weapons and explosives.
And if successful, the controversial scanners -- which cost around €100,000 each -- will also be rolled out to Cork and Shannon airports.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is currently waiting for the green light from the Transport Department to buy the scanners.
It is expected that scanners will become part of normal airport security after the bomb scare on a US-bound flight on Christmas Day.
Yesterday a tender ranging in cost between €200,000 and €2m was issued under a six-year framework. The tender is a preliminary contract of sorts which will allow the DAA to buy the scanners "should they be required to do so".
A plan is in place for the scanners to be tried out at Dublin Airport on a portion of passengers initially and if successful they will be extended to scan all passengers and later to Cork and Shannon airports.
The EU has not yet ordered that all airports introduce scanners.
However, at a meeting in Brussels on January 7, officials "underlined the need for an EU approach to addressing the security situation, including the use of imaging technology (commonly referred to as body scanners), as one means for screening passengers".
"The commission is considering an initiative on imaging technology to reinforce passenger security, while at the same time addressing the conditions for using such technology, in particular, privacy, data protection and health issues," a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said.
"While the use of body scanners as a method of screening passengers is not currently approved by the EU, the technology has and continues to be trialled at a number of EU airports," the spokeswoman added
Aviation expert Ciaran O'Connor said that the scanners will likely be introduced around the world as security is stepped up.
"The scan is a substitute for a full check of each passenger and this is the quickest way to do it," he said.
"It's purely a case of expediency. If you don't use the scanners you'll have to search each individual," Mr O'Connor added.
He said that if some airports begin to introduce them they are likely to be spread across the world.
Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd welcome the introduction of the scanners -- but cautioned that the privacy of the images must be guaranteed.
"After what happened on Christmas Day steps towards defeating terrorists are needed," he said.
"But the training and suitability of the staff using these machines must obviously be guaranteed. And the privacy of the image has to be totally respected."
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said they are not commenting on it at the moment but will "follow developments closely".
Meanwhile British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has confirmed that UK airports are to deploy the full-body scanners along with increased passenger profiling.
Last week, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he was not guilty of attempting to blow up the Detroit-bound jetliner.
He faces six charges, including the attempted use of a "weapon of mass destruction" to bring down a plane carrying 289 other people.
He allegedly attempted to ignite explosives stored in his underwear as the flight from Amsterdam made its descent to Detroit.