The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald today visited Dublin Airport to review progress towards the civilianisation of frontline immigration control procedures at the Airport.
The civilianisation of passport checks and immigration booths to free up Gardaí for other frontline policing work was announced by the Minister in September 2014.
A new uniformed border management unit has now been established by Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality and over 80 civilian immigration officers have assumed responsibility for border checks in Terminal 1 on a 24/7 365 basis.
Speaking at the airport Minister Fitzgerald said "When I announced this significant reform of how we deliver frontline immigration controls I was determined that these reforms would be delivered as quickly as possible.
"I am pleased with the significant progress that has been made to date and to be here today to acknowledge the delivery of phase one of this programme."
Minister Fitzgerald indicated that the civilianisation programme would continue over the coming months and that civilian immigration officers would take over further immigration control duties in Terminal 2 in October with completion of the full civilianisation programme as soon as possible thereafter.
Garda numbers at Dublin Airport have fallen from more than 120 in 2008 to just over 60 today with the number Gardaí assigned to the Airport set to be reduced by another 20 when the civilian roll-out is completed.
The programme will result in reduction in costs of the immigration function at Dublin Airport, from €7 million to approximately €3 million once completed.
In addition to the civilianisation programme a tender process for additional e-gates will commence shortly.
The existing e-gates at Dublin Airport are operating very successfully with up to 17,500 persons a week using this facility at peak times.
The number of e-gates will increase very significantly with the roll-out of up to 15 additional gates commencing in the coming months.
These will further facilitate the smooth passage of travellers through the airport.
The Minister also reviewed the new daa information screens to provide passengers with information on expected queuing times.
"We are delighted to be working with the Department of Justice to enhance the immigration services that are provided by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) at Dublin Airport" said daa Chief Executive Kevin Toland.
In briefings provided to the Minister today her officials confirmed that despite a 19% growth in Terminal 1 passenger volumes in the peak Summer months, the average queue times experienced by Irish and EU passengers are approximately three minutes and approximately five minutes for passengers for outside the EU.
A similar experience was recorded in Terminal 2.
Since June the revised immigration arrangements in the airport's two terminals have welcomed an estimated 4.2m visitors with daa having reported July and August as record months for passenger numbers.
These passenger volumes mean Dublin Airport is on track this year for its own record year for passenger numbers with latest trends suggesting full year volumes will exceed 24m, making 2015 the busiest year ever at the airport.
The Minister stated that the growth in passengers through Dublin Airport is "a very real example of the growth and recovery in the Irish economy."
Concluding her visit Minister Fitzgerald said "I would like to acknowledge the work of staff in my Department, members of An Garda Síochána and staff from the daa who have shown great commitment to the delivery of this programme.
"I am confident that through their continuing diligence and commitment that these reforms will be fully implemented and will ensure that we have a robust border management control system which will protect our borders while ensuring that genuine travellers have an extremely positive experience".