Long delays at passport control a ‘recurring problem’ at Dublin Airport

Call for additional resources to deal with growing number of passengers

Last year 28 million people travelled through Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson

Last year 28 million people travelled through Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Concerns have been raised over passport control at Dublin Airport following complaints of long delays experienced by passengers.

Last year, 28 million people travelled through the capital’s airport and while the Department of Justice says 90 per cent of arrivals pass immigration control promptly, questions are being asked over the system’s ability to cope.

“We have a problem and it’s a recurring problem,” said Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien whose Dublin Fingal constituency is home to the airport.

Delays are occurring “on a regular basis”, he said, despite having received assurances from Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald that the maximum number of staff are on duty during peak arrival times.

“If she is content with the resources that we have there must be something wrong with the process and how it is resourced or being managed,” he said.

“It is not just a once-off. If it was a once-off and a lot of flights converged at the same time you would understand, but it’s not.”

E-gates

Mr O’Brien said additional resources are now required to process queues, particularly in terminal one and ahead of the tourist season. He has also called for a speedy implementation of “e-gates”, which will allow EU passport holders to scan their way through immigration controls. These are expected to come into use later this year.

“I don’t believe the resources we have are keeping pace with the growth of the airport,” Mr O’Brien said.

He has received numerous complaints from constituents and travellers with one referring to a delay at immigration of an hour and 20 minutes.

“If people are coming in as tourists, it’s not a great introduction to the country.”

In another parliamentary question last February, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan asked if measures were being taken to “avoid a repeat of the hour-long wait”.

Visitors up

According to Tourism Ireland, which markets the country overseas, 2016 surpassed previous records for visitors. This year it aims to grow revenue by 4.5 per cent, with additional flights into Ireland identified as a significant enabler.

Responding to Mr O’Brien’s query, Ms Fitzgerald said on “rare occasions” passengers experience delays for a variety of reasons including congestion due to the number of passengers disembarking at peak times, enhanced checks on passengers or building works in one of the immigration areas.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said the maximum number of staff is 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,” it said.

The process of replacing gardaí with civilians at border control is ongoing. In 2015 it was completed in terminal one while recruitment is now taking place for terminal two.