Wednesday 26 October 2016

Passport checks now being done by 35 civilians

The move towards civilians working at passport control in Dublin Airport's Terminal One will be completed this summer.

It is part of a move towards freeing up garda resources.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced last September that there would be a major programme of reform to "civilianise" immigration functions currently undertaken by gardai.

She said that when completed it would release 125 members of the force to core duties.


The programme includes the use of civilian immigration officers to undertake frontline passport checks at Dublin Airport.

Ms Fitzgerald said this week that the initiative involves the deployment of 80 civilian staff at the airport's border control booths for 24 hours a day, every day.

"This project is now under way, and the move to a 24/7 civilian operation in Terminal One is expected to be completed this summer," she said.

The minister added that civilians have been operating in Terminal One from Monday to Friday.

"Thirty five civilian staff are currently deployed there," she said.

The measures will be implemented at Terminal Two by December.

"I am looking at further deployment of civilian officers to other major ports of entry to the State, where this makes sense from a cost and efficiency perspective," Ms Fitzgerald added.

The new employees have joined the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice, and they entered training before being assigned to the airport.

There was controversy last year when passengers arriving at the airport's passport control outside of business hours faced long queues because the civil servants who run the "self-service" border screening programme only worked on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

The automated border control gates or "e-gates" were introduced with much fanfare at Terminal One in May 2013 by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter to cater for EU, EEA and Swiss passport holders.

Passports could be electronically scanned instead of having to be presented to gardai or immigration officials.

Subsequently, opening hours at the self-service gates were extended which alleviated the backlog. Meanwhile, Ms Fitzgerald has eased that applications for refugee status or asylum originated from 67 countries last year.


"I am advised by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the independent body with responsibility for the processing of applications for refugee status, that applications originated from 67 countries in 2014," she said.

The top 10 countries of origin were Pakistan, Nigeria, Albania, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Algeria, DR Congo, Malawi, South Africa and Ukraine. These countries accounted for almost 71pc of all applications received.

Applications for refugee status originated from 37 countries in the first two months of this year.


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