As the Deputy may be aware, I asked my officials to convene a meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group to examine the issue of illegal operation of drones in and around prohibited airspace at Irish airports. This was in light of the recent drone events at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. The Group, which included representatives of all the relevant Government departments and State authorities, airports and airlines, discussed preparedness at Irish airports in the event of an illegal infringement into restricted airspace of a drone, including current arrangements and on-going developments at the EU level.
There are already very strong regulatory provisions in place in Ireland, which control and restrict the use of drones. Ireland was an early mover in this respect. These include an exclusion zone of 5 kilometres around airports, which is something I understand the UK authorities are now moving to. There are also operational protocols in place for dealing with illegal drone activity at the airports, which serve to coordinate the response of the airport authority, air traffic control and An Garda Siochána.
It would of course be inappropriate to provide specific information on what contingency plans might entail - as this would risk compromising the effectiveness of any response - but I can assure you it is a matter being treated very seriously by the airport operators, by the airlines, by my Department and the safety regulator - the Irish Aviation Authority.