US Preclearance facilitates passengers of US bound flights to fully clear all US controls before leaving Ireland. It is a valuable asset for Ireland and has been an enormous success, with 1.9 passengers availing of the service at Shannon and Dublin Airports in 2018. I thank the Deputy for this opportunity to clarify the status of the facilities, which operate under the terms of an international agreement between Ireland and the US.
The US Preclearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports are within Irish jurisdiction and the laws of Ireland apply at all times. US Customs and Border Protection Officers are not equipped with firearms or any other offensive weapons. US Preclearance Officers are not considered law enforcement officers. The only law enforcement officers at Irish airports are An Garda Síochána members and Customs Officers.
Passengers present voluntarily for preclearance and avail of the facility on a consensual basis. Until their flight departs, passengers remain in Irish legal jurisdiction and have the right to withdraw from the preclearance process at any time. The decision to allow a passenger enter the United States is a matter solely for US Customs and Border Protection and no Irish official has any function in this.
An Garda Síochána provide a law enforcement presence to ensure the security of the Preclearance area and safety of Preclearance officers, travellers and airport staff. Law enforcement agencies, including US Customs and Border Protection consult and collaborate regularly to ensure the safety and security of all airport users.
CBP Preclearance Officers may detain a person in a limited number of circumstances and any persons detained under these provisions must be delivered forthwith into the custody of An Garda Síochána. The Agreement states that nothing therein diminishes the rights enjoyed by individuals under the Constitution and laws of Ireland.