Lengthy delays being experienced by passengers entering Ireland through Dublin airport due to the long queues at immigration
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the regular lengthy delays being experienced by passengers entering Ireland through Dublin airport due to the long queues at immigration; her plans to reduce waiting times; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien
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 allocation of immigration personnel at Dublin Airport is designed to have the maximum number of staff on duty during peak periods. Every effort is made by immigration officers to exercise their function as speedily as possible consistent with the requirement to protect our borders and facilitate legitimate travellers. Nonetheless, a very high number of flights within a contracted arrivals time period (which happens frequently at Dublin airport) and the consequent increased passenger numbers within these peak times, can impact on queuing times over these periods. Although, the immigration authorities at Dublin Airport have no control over the number of flights or their arrival times, they have an excellent relationship with the Dublin Airport Authority and air carriers and work closely together to address queue management issues where they arise so as to ensure that waiting times are kept to a minimum.
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 and passengers are systematically checked against this database. 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) of my Department 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.