Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Department of An Taoiseach
95. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is satisfied with waiting times at passport control in Dublin Airport; and if she has been in contact with the authorities such as the DAA regarding making practical changes to procedure and staffing to avoid a repeat of the hour long wait. [7738/17]
Information supplied by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in relation to queue times for arriving passengers at Dublin Airport shows that over 90% of all travellers are processed through immigration control in a matter of minutes with the figures being even higher for passengers of EU nationalities. This is in the context of passenger numbers at Dublin Airport reaching record levels last year with almost 28 million passengers using the airport. On the rare occasions that passengers may experience delays this can be for a variety of reasons including congestion arising in the terminal building due to the number of passengers disembarking from flights at peak daily periods, delayed flights due to weather conditions, or other factors including the conducting of enhanced checks on passengers or current building works in one of the immigration areas which has reduced the space available. The Irish immigration authorities have an excellent relationship with the DAA and work closely together to address queue management issues where they arise.
The Deputy will appreciate that the protection of our borders is a matter of the utmost priority and that checks undertaken on passengers must be thorough and appropriate. Issues may arise that require further processing and checks of individual passengers but every reasonable effort is made to minimise the impact on travellers. In this context, and in line with developments in other EU Member States, my Department and An Garda Síochána continues to progress a broad series of initiatives to strengthen border security. For example, since November 2016 an automated connection to INTERPOL’s Lost and Stolen Travel Documents database was rolled out to all international airports and seaports. In the first eight weeks of operating systematic checks against this Database over 700,000 documents were searched, with a number of people having been refused entry to Ireland on the basis of an alert on the system having been triggered. This has not had any significant impact on immigration processing times.
Later this year the Irish immigration authorities will begin to process Advance Passenger Information on flights into the State from outside the EU and preparations are also under way to implement the EU Directive on Passenger Name Records (PNR). These systems will provide further protection for our borders against crime, terrorism and illegal immigration threats. In addition, I expect to be in a position to award a contract for the provision of automatic border control (ABC) gates in the next few months and to begin installation at Dublin airport later in the year. This facility will be available for EU nationals with e-passports to effectively self-immigrate through the airport.
Furthermore, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will this year take on the front line checks in Terminal 2 at Dublin airport (they already carry out this function in Terminal 1 and the Transit area of Terminal 2) which will release further Gardaí for core policing duties.