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Five people referred to Garda immigration officials for refusing to fill out passenger locator forms

It is a legal requirement for passengers arriving in Ireland from overseas to complete a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form.

Image: RollingNews.ie

FIVE PEOPLE WHO travelled through Dublin Airport have been referred to the Garda National Immigration Bureau for failing to fill out a Passenger Locator Form, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has confirmed. 

McEntee told Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke that GNIB and The Director Of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are currently following up with four of these five passengers, who were all granted leave to land at Dublin Airport. 

It is a legal requirement for passengers arriving in Ireland from overseas to complete a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form.

The form is to be used to facilitate a system of follow-up checks to make sure the details entered are correct. The form also ensures more accurate contact tracing, should it be necessary. 

McEntee said any passenger who refuses to fill out a form at Dublin Airport is referred to GNIB officials. 

It comes amid concerns from Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shorthall after it emerged that only a quarter of incoming passengers were contacted to check compliance with requirements for people to restrict their movement for 14 days after arriving from countries not on Ireland’s Green List. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed in a Parliamentary Question to Shorthall that a majority of 370,000 passengers who arrived in Ireland since 1 August came from countries not on Ireland’s Green List. 

Until 25 August, incoming passengers had to fill out a Passenger Locator Form, provide contact details and inform authorities where they’d be staying during their 14-day isolation period. 

The system moved to an online process on 26 August. Donnelly last week confirmed that in its first week – when 59, 605 people arrived in Ireland – 70,000 text messages were sent and 13,000 calls were made to a “sample” of passengers. 

Shorthall told TheJournal.ie there are still questions around how passengers arriving in Ireland are monitored. 

“While the number of people referred to the GNIB is small, surely those who complied with filling out the passenger locator form but have failed to answer a follow up call are equally risky?” she said.

“With only a quarter of passengers receiving follow-up calls, there needs to be better monitoring to ensure they adhere to restricting their movements.

“As for those who refuse to answer a follow up call, there should be a provision to escalate those cases in a similar manner to the passengers who refuse to fill out the locator form upon arrival,” said Shorthall. 

Sinn Féin’s O’Rourke said a number of people have contacted him to say they had not been followed up by officials after arriving in Ireland. 

“I think [Passenger Locator Forms] have a useful role…but a form in of itself is a complete waste of time. It needs to be followed up,” he said.  

The Government last month signalled it will sign up to the EU’s travel restrictions plan when it is announced later this month. 

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen first proposed the idea that a ‘green light’ would be given to countries that had a virus “incidence of 25 per 100,000 over 14 days, and a positivity rate of less than 2%.

On the new EU traffic light system, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week said that the proposal is still “a bit up in the air”.

He explained that the plan will come before the EU General Affairs plan next month for approval.

“That will be led by the foreign ministers, as opposed to health ministers,” Varadkar said.

“I think the various foreign ministers probably take a broader, more holistic view than health ministers who would take a more narrow view so that’s probably a positive in terms of getting a good outcome for aviation.”

However, he said that the “big challenge” is that all the virus numbers “are going in the wrong direction”.

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