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Saturday 23 February 2019

Special meeting called to consider 'drone threat' to Irish airports

Despite there being no known photographs nor videos of the suspected drone, Mr York remains adamant there was at least one circling Gatwick before Christmas. Photo: PA
Despite there being no known photographs nor videos of the suspected drone, Mr York remains adamant there was at least one circling Gatwick before Christmas. Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE threat of drone activity to Irish airports is to be considered in the wake of incidents that disrupted flights in Britain.

Transport minister Shane Ross has called a special meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group tomorrow to advise him on the recent incidents in the UK and their implication for Irish airports.

A reported drone sighting at Heathrow airport halted departures there for about an hour on Tuesday.

And thousands of passengers saw their travel plans disrupted after drones were sighted at Gatwick Airport just days before Christmas.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond yesterday called on Minister Ross to confirm that Dublin Airport is adequately prepared to deal with similar incidents.

He said: "The economic and human costs of these drone attacks have been massive; understandably many Irish travellers are concerned the same could happen here."

Mr Ross this evening said he is convening the special meeting National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group.

A Transport Department statement said that should there be any further steps required to improve how the State can respond to the threat of future illegal drone activity around Irish airports, the Minister "will take appropriate action".

Mr Ross said: "There are already strict rules in Ireland around the use of drones, including an exclusion zone of 5 kilometres around airports.

"The misuse of drones is an offence, and flying drones in controlled Irish airspace or within 5 kilometres of an airport is a very serious matter.

"I have asked my Department to convene at short notice a special meeting of an expert industry group to assess recent events and advise me on how we are prepared at our own airports and whether there are further things which can be done.”

The National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group is chaired by the Department of Transport and includes representatives from the Irish Aviation Authority, the State airports, Irish airlines, the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Gardaí and the Defence Forces.

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