Airport working with US agents to beat bomb threat

Geraldine Gittens

US OFFICIALS may be running the stringent new US pre-clearance facility at Dublin Airport - but Irish laws still rule.

US Customs and Border Protection Agency will be subjecting passengers to such rigorous checks at Dublin's Terminal 2 that travellers will be treated as domestic passengers when they land in America .

For the first time, their bags will be photographed.

Customs officers will be able to see pictures of the luggage on screen while they check passengers' documents.

But authorities here insist that passengers remain in Irish territory and Irish law applies until long after the flight takes off.

"It is not the US immigration area -- it is the preclearance area, so they remain in Ireland,"

said a spokesperson for the Department of Transport.

"The law is very clear on this." A source at Dublin airport told the Herald:"This is full clearance for the United States, and Ireland is the only country that has it outside of the US.

"It's quite unique and it will be a big selling factor for us," said the source.


The facility, managed by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, will enable air travellers to land in the US as domestic passengers.

They'll simply collect their luggage after landing and before moving on to their next mode of transport.

"We worked very closely with them to supply their operation there.

"They wanted a procedure put in place that the bag could be taken off the plane immediately if something suspect showed up in it," the source added.

"Once you're pre-cleared here for the US, in the States you've no queues to join, no processing, and no interrogation of your information.

"The only queue you go to is the taxi queue, basically."

The Department of Transport spokesperson insisted, however, that the gardai and customs officers are the enforcement officers.

If passengers are found carrying forbidden items, gardai and customs officers have the authority to take them from the plane and remove the items.

The DAA is now in talks with Air India in attempts to lure the airline into using T2 as a stop-off point for its US-bound flights.

That would allow their passengers to clear US immigration and customs at Dublin.

This week Greg Trayner, an Elvis impersonator, told Joe Duffy on RTE that his bag was searched in Shannon airport after customs officials suspected that he was going out to America to work on Monday.


He was left reeling after he was refused entry to the US by immigration and he was told that he was an "inadmissable alien".

Mr Trayner was supposed to go on a sightseeing tour of Graceland, as a guest of Joe Walsh Tours, for no payment, but his passport now carries a stamp saying "not admitted to the US," which he said he was "very annoyed" about.