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Dublin Airport

‘Sleeping at the wheel’: Minister Ryan comes under renewed criticism for drone disruptions

‘Once again he has been found to be sleeping at the wheel,’ claimed Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly.

SEVERAL POLITICIANS HAVE hit out at Transport Minister Eamon Ryan’s handling of recent drone disruptions at Dublin Airport.

Flight activity in Dublin Airport was briefly suspended on Thursday evening due to illegal drone activity at the airport, the sixth such incident so far this year.

It is against the law to fly a drone within five kilometres of the airport and daa has condemned the recent incidents as drone activity as “reckless and illegal”.

Minister Ryan will bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday to discuss the issue with senior members of Government.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week in Politics this afternoon, Education Minister Norma Foley said: “I don’t for one minute underestimate the extraordinary challenge and difficulties and indeed frustrations that are being visited on everyone.”

She added that the government is “very cognizant of that” and noted that “gardaí do have the authority to gather evidence” and that “cases go to the DPP”.

Minister Foley acknowledged the need for a “more robust system” and added that that’s “what the [Transport] Minister and the Minister of State are proposed to bring to Cabinet on Tuesday”.

Speaking last week, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary claimed that anti-drone technology is a “reasonably easy” solution that would only cost around €100,000.

But on this afternoon’s This Week in Politics, Minister Foley said: “It’s important that it would be the right type of technology and that it would obviously have the correct legal framework as well. So that memo will come to Cabinet on Tuesday.”

However, Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly, who was appearing on the same RTÉ programme, said: “In the first instance, we need to get the technology into Dublin Airport to ensure that we can ground the drone.”

She also accused Minister Ryan of once again being “found sleeping at the wheel”.

“The delay [in dealing with this issue] is absolutely too long. Minister Foley talked about perhaps people are a bit frustrated. It’s a bit more than that now.

“It is incredibly important that it [Dublin Airport] can function and also that people can book a flight for business or for pleasure and know that they can do that with confidence.

“At the moment, they cannot do that and that is on Minister Ryan. Once again he has been found to be sleeping at the wheel.”

O’Reilly went on to claim that Minister Ryan is “always reacting, never being proactive and that’s driving people mad”.

“The government needs to get ahead of this,” said O’Reilly. “We’ve had six interruptions in Dublin Airport in this year alone and the government now are going to have a chat and do a bit of a memo.

“This is really something that they could act on, they could act on it quickly, and yet we don’t see any appetite at all from them.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett agreed with O’Reilly the technology should be in place.

“It’s absolutely extraordinary that this wasn’t even seen ahead of time,” he told This Week in Politics.

“We’re always behind and then it takes ages because we don’t know who’s responsible for what, it’s absolutely crazy they don’t invest in the technology,” he added.

Meanwhile, when Independent TD for Wexford Verona Murphy was asked if he “dropped the ball” regarding the drone disruptions, she replied: “I don’t think he ever picked up the ball and I think that’s the point.”

She added: “We don’t have a national security strategy and it is a national security issue.

“It happened in London airports, planes were grounded for three days, in which case it never happened again.

“The Taoiseach’s department is actually the department that’s responsible for our security strategy.

“We shouldn’t have commercial disruption, we need to protect our airports, we need to protect people flying in this country for business.”

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