Civilian immigration staff have replaced gardaí at passport control desks at Dublin Airport Terminal 1. In time, passport control at both terminals at Dublin Airport will be staffed by civilians instead of gardaí.
A new uniformed border management unit has been set up by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice at Terminal 1.
At the airport yesterday, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said it was inevitable that civilians would take over immigration control duties at the State's other international airports.
Garda numbers at Dublin Airport have fallen from more than 120 in 2008 to about 60 today with the number of gardaí assigned to the airport set to be reduced by another 20 when the civilian roll-out is completed. The programme will result in a reduction in costs from €7 million to about €3 million once completed.
Last year it was announced that 80 civilian staff were being transferred to passport control duties to take over responsibility from gardaí for manning immigration booths.
Passengers arriving into Dublin Airport have often faced lengthy delays at passport control. It was reported in March that arrivals had to wait at immigration for as long as one hour and 20 minutes during the 2014 August bank holiday.
A tender process for additional unmanned e-gates will also commence shortly. The existing e-gates at the airport process up to 17,500 persons a week using this facility at peak times. About 15 additional gates will be put in place in the coming months.
Ms Fitzgerald was at the airport to review the implementation of civilian border control duties. “I also understand that the passenger experience for genuine travellers has been enhanced with significant progress made in addressing queueing times during peak periods even where there has been a significant increase in passenger numbers,” she said.
This summer was Dublin Airport’s busiest so far with 4.2 million passengers passing through the facility.