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people smuggling

Three men at centre of Dublin Airport human trafficking case to appear in court today

Two Aer Lingus staff were among those arrested at Dublin Airport yesterday.

Updated 7.50am

THREE MEN WILL appear before Dublin District Court today, charged with immigration offences related to the alleged smuggling of illegal immigrants through Dublin Airport.

On Sunday evening, two Aer Lingus employees were among those arrested by gardaí who suspected that the staff were facilitating a third man’s illegal entry into Ireland.

The three men, aged 61, 56 and 28, were arrested and detained at Ballymun, Swords and Coolock garda stations.

It is believed that the men were arrested by the Garda Immigration Bureau as part of an investigation into international people smuggling.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, aviation expert Julian Gray called it a “major, long term scam” that was operating from a “bogus, travel agency in Rome”.

He said that he understands it could have cost between €20,000 to €30,000 a head to get the service.

When asked if this was unheard of, he said that it happens on a fairly regular basis across the world, calling it a “continuous battle”. It is a “shocker” to be talking about Dublin in these terms, Gray added.

“We must not be over hard on Dublin Airport authorities,” he said. “There is a system of trust… If you stopped every person for a security check, you wouldn’t get any aircraft in or out.”

He called for a major rethink for all Western airports, and that this could be happening in some of Europe’s largest airports.

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said gardaí have searched a number of premises and vehicles as part of the investigation.

They are working to identify how many occasions in the past this may have taken place. He said gardaí investigating this incident were analysing a “considerable amount of data”.

Clearly people who are from particular jurisdictions are willing to pay considerable sums of money if they can enter a jurisdiction where they would not otherwise have that capacity. There is always a temptation there for people to succumb to the offering of corrupt payments.

O’Driscoll said Ireland’s reputation would be “greatly damaged” if it did not show a capacity to continuously monitor immigration controls. However, he pointed out that authorities are regularly refusing leave to land to people detected in the course of their attempt to enter the state.

Last year, they refused leave to land to some 3,300 people – a 15% increase on the previous year.

In a statement, Aer Lingus confirmed two of its employees had been arrested and said it is co-operating fully with gardaí. DAA, which runs Dublin Airport, also said it is assisting the GNIB with inquiries.  

Last night, there was a backlash against Ryanair’s reaction to the news, after the carrier posted what has been described as “disgusting” jokes about illegal immigrants.

Comments have been turned off as the case is now before the courts.

Read: Two Aer Lingus staff among three arrested at Dublin Airport over alleged people smuggling

Read: People smuggling in Ireland: ‘We need to ask, why are they taking this route?’