Off-duty gardai spark airport security scare

Jane Last and Ken Foy

A MAJOR security alert occurred at Dublin Airport after reports that men were firing weapons close to its perimeter fence.

But after detectives sped to the scene they discovered that the men were two off-duty gardai shooting rabbits in a field beside the airport.

The bizarre drama unfolded shortly after 9pm last week when a member of staff from the airport who was driving home spotted the two men in a field close to the boundary fence beside the runway.

The staff member saw that they had a rifle and alerted airport authorities.

Gardai from Santry were notified and armed units drove to the scene. When officers approached the two off-duty gardai, it is understood that they discovered that one of the officers had a .22 rifle with a silencer and telescopic lens.

Both of the weapons that the off-duty gardai had were legally held and no arrests were made at the scene on Friday of last week.

It is understood that the two gardai explained that they were hunting rabbits in the field at the request of and with the permission of the landowner.

Sources say that the men also explained that they had called a local garda station before they went shooting to notify them.

An airport source said: "This was considered a major security risk as they were seen using the weapon close to the runway.


"Even though it was later discovered there was no menace intended, all it could take was for one bullet to ricochet and hit a plane."

The two gardai are understood to be based in Dublin city stations and will not face charges or disciplinary sanction in relation to the incident.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has been notified of the incident.

A garda source explained: "I can confirm that gardai at Santry station are investigating this incident, but it is not a criminal matter.

"On Friday night officers from that station responded to a call about two males with firearms in a field close to the perimeter of Dublin Airport.

"Gardai are satisfied that the men were shooting rabbits at the request of the landowner and all firearms were legally held."

It has been a high-profile week for security issues at Dublin Airport. Earlier this week, inspectors from the European Commission ordered the Government to address deficiencies in security procedures.

Because of this, tighter security checks will be in place for at least two months.