Timeline – Transport Minister Eamon Ryan knew about alleged security issues at Dublin Airport last June, but what has he done since?

Passengers faced long queues for security clearance due to staffing issues at Dublin Airport last March. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Julien Behal

thumbnail: Passengers faced long queues for security clearance due to staffing issues at Dublin Airport last March. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
thumbnail: Transport Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Julien Behal
Gabija Gataveckaite

A protected disclosure containing a stark warning that serious security screening failings at Dublin Airport could lead to a terrorist attack was handed to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan in the Dáil nearly nine months ago.

In October 2021, the whistleblower made a complaint of bullying involving seven incidents. In September last year, a report from an external investigator upheld only one of the seven incidents referenced in the complaint.

As a result, the complaint of bullying was not upheld. Currently, the whistleblower is involved in a dispute with their employer involving an unpublished recommendation from the external investigator’s report and a pay review.

On June 29 last year, the protected disclosure was handed to Mr Ryan in the Dáil chamber by Labour TD Duncan Smith.

On October 5, the whistleblower emailed Mr Ryan’s office, raising concerns as to why it has been over three months and no reply has been received. The whistleblower asked Mr Ryan if an investigation was underway in his department in relation to the claims in the disclosure.

The following day, a senior official in the Department of Transport told the whistleblower, by email, that no contact was made because the Department did not have an email address, home address, or phone number for the whistleblower. This is despite the whistleblower being named on the disclosure.

The senior official said “preliminary assessment” of the correspondence was carried out and it was found there was “insufficient evidence of relevant wrongdoing”.

The official then added that because the Department now had the whistleblower’s contact details, further assessment could take place.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Julien Behal

The civil servant asked for additional information to support the claims that were made. They also said that if the issue was to progress, it may not be possible to protect the whistleblower’s anonymity.

The whistleblower responded on October 8, giving further information as requested by the Department. They stated they did not wish to be anonymous and are named in the disclosure. They said they had “no confidence” in the DAA executive and that security screening is “cheap and fast” with staff who are “not suitable” for the role.

The whistleblower urged the department to carry out a full investigation to find the “smoking gun”, saying the culture is “toxic”.

There was further back and forth between officials and the whistleblower, and on November 17, the senior official told the whistleblower the “appropriate receipt” of the protected disclosure is the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). It was then passed to the IAA.

On March 9, in a document seen by Independent.ie, the IAA says initial assessment of the issues raised in the protected disclosure have taken place. The document states there is “prima facie” evidence “that a relevant wrongdoing may have occurred”.

The IAA will now take “appropriate action” which will aim to “address the relevant wrongdoing”. The Department of Transport said it cannot comment on protected disclosures and the company secretary of the IAA is the person, under the law, prescribed to receive disclosures.