The enhanced procedures the Deputy asks about were decided by my Department and adopted by the National Civil Aviation Security Committee on the basis of a risk assessment by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which has responsibility for regulating aviation security in Ireland. The Security Committee has members taken from key Government Departments (including Revenue), An Garda Siochána, the Defense Forces, and industry (both airports and airlines). These new, enhanced staff screening procedures are being put in as part of an ongoing programme of security improvements at our State airports.
The overall approach to reviewing and assessing airport security represents the honouring of commitments made in the 2015 National Aviation Policy (NAP), which was developed by the Department following extensive industry and stakeholder consultation. The NAP committed to introduce a risk-based approach to ensure Ireland has a robust and efficient aviation security system.
A number of reviews/audits of security practices and procedures at the State airports pointed to the need to make improvements. In particular, in 2017 the Department invited the Paris-based European Civil Aviation Conference (a long-established pan European organisation with expertise in aviation security) to review security at Dublin Airport. That review - the contents of which are confidential - made a number of recommendations, which the Department and the regulator (the IAA) have set about implementing nationally.
The reality is that aviation security is a highly regulated area by international agreements - under the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and under the European regulations – and the State is committed to implementing best international practice in this field. The principal regulation in Europe for setting out the standards for civil aviation security is Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008, and Ireland is required to adhere to the baseline requirements laid out in this Regulation, including a requirement that:
“All persons other than passengers, together with their items carried, shall be screened upon entering critical parts of security restricted areas in order to prevent prohibited articles from being introduced into these parts.”
I wish to assure the Deputy that personnel are and will continue to be exempt from screening if they are responding to any emergency situation, without any delay.