Calls for DAA to be hauled in before Oireachtas Transport committee over terror attack fears in whistleblower claims

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan

Gabija Gataveckaite

Dublin Airport chiefs face being questioned by TDs over allegations that poor standards of security could lead to a terror attack.

Calls have now been made by members of the Oireachtas Transport Committee for executives from airport operator DAA to be appear before them over the “deeply disturbing” allegations made in a protected disclosure by a whistleblower. reported yesterday on the whistleblower’s claims, which allege that security screening at the airport is “not fit for purpose” and leave open the risk of a terror attack.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is now investigating the shocking claims.

The claims are “deeply disturbing”, according to Fianna Fáil senator Timmy Dooley, who said he will be asking the chair of the Transport Committee to invite DAA chiefs to come before it.

“Not only have customers had to suffer the inconvenience of long delays and concerns about missed flights, there’s now concern that the system of checking is not up to standard,” said Mr Dooley.

“It’s particularly worrying that the aviation authority have indicated prime facie evidence backing up this assertion. We now need to hear from the DAA,” he said.

Labour TD Duncan Smith, who handed the disclosure in hard copy to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan in the Dáil last June, said he would be writing to the chair of the committee requesting the DAA are invited in.

“We need the DAA brought in before the Transport Committee at the earliest possible convenience to go through these very serious concerns,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD James O’Connor said the whistleblower should make the same protected disclosure to the committee. “They can write to the Transport Committee if they wish, they’re welcome to do so,” he said.

“I’ve met with security personnel in Dublin Airport before. They’ve had a very tough 18 months due to staff being let go. I’ve also found it a very efficient and effective system.

“This is obviously something that merits a bit of discussion, if it is as serious as it is being said.”

In an expanded statement yesterday, the DAA said it “never comments” on security issues as aviation security “aims to prevent acts of unlawful interference, by keeping threatening items such as arms and explosives away from aircraft”.

“We never comment on the frequency, nature or findings of any audits or investigations for similar reasons to avoid sharing intelligence on such matters in any medium with those who might seek to bring about such unlawful acts.”

In the whistleblower’s protected disclosure, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, it is alleged screening at the airport is in a “critical situation” which leaves possible gaps for explosive devices to slip through and on board flights.

It says the Transport Minister is allowing a “roll of the dice” each morning and hoping “that nothing happens”.

A lapse in standards of staff training has led to “below par” security screening at the airport, where “vulnerabilities” could be “exploited”.

A DAA spokesperson said it is subject to “regular, independent, national and international oversight of our compliance with stringent security requirements”.

The DAA said it would “cooperate fully” with any investigation. “Any allegations under a protected disclosure should remain to be allegations only, until such claims are fully investigated and ultimately resolved.”