A number of constituents expressed concern to me about controls at our ports and airports.
Below is a reply by the Minister for Justice and Equality to a Parliamentary Question I tabled in Dáil Éireann on this important issue.
For Written Answer on : 22/07/2020
Question Number(s): 183 Question Reference(s): 17667/20
Department: Justice and Equality
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is satisfied that there are adequate controls and checks at airports and ports on persons travelling here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
An Garda Síochána is responsible for immigration controls at all ports of entry to this State, with the exception of Dublin Airport. Gardaí fulfil immigration control duties at ports which have been approved for the landing of non-nationals and monitor ports which are not approved for entry into the State. The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) provides training, backup and expertise to local Garda District personnel in this respect. The ports specified in the schedule to the Immigration Act 2004 (Approved Ports) Regulations 2004, are prescribed for the purposes of section 6 (2) of the Immigration Act 2004.
The Border Management Unit (BMU) of my Department’s Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) function is responsible for frontline immigration operations at Dublin Airport on a 24/7 basis. Immigration Officers of the BMU perform their duties in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Act, 2004 and Orders as they relate to entry and refusal of entry to the State.
The Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020, was enacted on 20 March. The Act gives the Minister for Health the power to make regulations to restrict travel to and from Ireland.
Under Regulations made by the Minister for Health – Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) Regulations 2020, S.I. No. 181/2020 – the completion of a passenger locator form became a mandatory requirement on 28 May 2020.
On behalf of the health authorities, the collection of public health passenger locator forms and the system of spot check follow up calls has been carried out on an administrative basis by officials from the Border Management Unit (BMU) and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). The BMU operate the scheme at Dublin Airport on behalf of the health authorities, which, at this time, is the principal route through which people are entering the State by air.
While the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) manage the compliance of the passenger locator forms for the other ports, the passenger locator forms are forwarded to the BMU in Dublin Airport, who also carry out the follow-up calls for those ports. The BMU continue to make follow-up calls to passengers arriving into Dublin Airport and other ports of entry to Ireland whilst we await the handover of this process to the Department of Health.
Since the mandatory introduction of the passenger locator form on 28 May 2020, any passengers refusing to complete the mandatory form are referred to GNIB. Section 31(a) of the Health Act 1947 (as amended) provides for powers of arrest for An Garda Síochána.