Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 23 February, 1989

Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Airport Safety Procedures.

14. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport, in view of the disclosure that the Lockerbie air disaster was caused by a bomb, if any review has been carried out of safety procedures at Irish airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Lyons: As soon as it began to emerge that the Pan Am disaster was an act of terrorism, the Minister asked for [1488] an immediate review of civil aviation security. This review has already been undertaken by the National Civil Aviation Security Committee and as a result steps have been taken to increase the level of security at Irish airports. For obvious reasons, these steps must remain confidential.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Minister will be aware that a number of issues arise from the Pan Am Aircraft Disaster at Lockerbie. Has the Minister ensured that there are methods available at our airports for the detection of new types of explosives such as Semtex?

Mr. Lyons: I am satisfied that the security arrangements at our airports are capable of detecting explosives but at the same time I would add that complacency is a very dangerous line to take. Again I want to reiterate that security measures will have to remain confidential.

Prionsias De Rossa: I can appreciate that the detail of security measures has to be kept confidential but I am asking a fairly open question and presumably this information will be available to anyone who chooses to plant a bomb. Will the Minister assure the House that the safety precautions at our airports include the capacity to detect explosives in luggage or on the person of someone seeking to board or disembark from a plane at an Irish airport? Will the Minister indicate also that there is a procedure for accounting for baggage at Irish airports and ensuring that persons who place baggage for loading actually go on the aircraft as well?

Mr. Lyons: I do not wish to comment on the information that terrorists may have available to them and the House will understand the prudence I am applying in not discussing the specifics — the Deputy agrees with this — of what is being done to counteract this sort of activity. May I ask the Deputy if it would be sufficient for me to say that the State has deployed very considerable resources to the security of our airports?

[1489] An Ceann Comhairle: That must be the end of Question Time.

Prionsias De Rossa: I am not satisfied with the response and I seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy in respect of the matter. That disposes of Questions for today.