Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Use of Irish Airspace and Landing Facilities: (Resumed) Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
We will deal today with the role of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in facilitating the landing of civilian or chartered aircraft carrying United States military personnel through Shannon Airport.
I remind all those present to turn off their mobile telephones and Blackberry devices because they interfere with the recording system. We are pleased to welcome the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, who will make a presentation on the role of his Department in civilian or chartered flights which transport military personnel with their personal weapons or side arms, which remain on board and require prior approval from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under SI 224/1973, Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 .
The invitation to address the committee arose as a result of ongoing investigations by the committee in regard to Petition 72/12, the US military and CIA use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace, from Dr. Edward Horgan. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, is accompanied today by Ms Ethna Brogan, principal officer, aviation services division in the Department; Mr. Niall Curran, assistant principal, aviation services division; and Mr. Barry Gilmore, higher executive officer, aviation services division. I welcome all the witnesses and thank them for forwarding the briefing, which has been circulated to the members.
Before commencing, I must inform the witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence the give to this committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
I invite the Minister to make his presentation.