Friday 24 November 2017

Government warned about air security before EU action

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE Department of Transport has been warned at least three other times in recent years of problems with security checks in airports, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Inspectors from the EU Commission this week ordered the department to address "deficiencies" in security procedures after inspectors found they were not complying with a common EU-wide system.

Passengers flying out of Dublin with an onward connection will have to go through another set of security checks for the next two months after the EU took formal action on Tuesday because Ireland failed to comply with strict rules.

A failure to track food, equipment and supplies going into Dublin Airport meant the airport had breached EU regulations.

Tighter security measures will be in place for at least two months.

Yesterday the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, which includes officials from government departments, airports, airlines and gardai, insisted that the airport was safe to use and that problems would be rectified "as soon as possible".

"Some additional security procedures will apply to aircraft departing from Dublin and arriving into other EU airports," chairman John Fearon said.

"Passengers . . . may be required to undergo screening again if transiting through a second airport. It's important to note that Dublin Airport is safe for passengers, aircraft and all users of the airport."

But this is not the first time that problems have been identified.

Annual reports published by the Department of Transport show that concerns were raised as far back as 2008, when strict rules were introduced across the EU that required all airports to use the same security procedures and systems.

Safety inspectors have also found problems in Cork, Shannon, Galway and Dublin airports that had to be addressed.

The Irish Independent has learnt:

• In September 2010, EU inspectors carried out an audit of the department -- which is responsible for airport security -- and found a number of "deficiencies". A detailed action plan was sent to the EU Commission, and the problems addressed. An audit by department officials at Cork Airport also found some problems, which were fixed.

• The previous year, a European Commission audit of Dublin Airport identified problems. They were addressed and the file was 'closed'. The same year, Department of Transport inspectors identified improvements to be put in place in Sligo and Cork airports.

• Two instances were also identified in 2008 -- one involved problems at Galway and Shannon airports. The EC also asked for improvements in the department.

The Dublin Airport Authority also insisted yesterday that security problems identified this week were not related to weapons being smuggled through the airport.

Media reports that weapons were cleared through security were "completely untrue", a spokesman said.

"The security audit raised no issue in relation to the screening of baggage at Dublin Airport and the claim is without foundation," the spokesman added.

Irish Independent

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