Charmless security grounds air passenger over pea-sized gun

WHEN is a lucky charm not a lucky charm?

When it’s the size of pea and the shape of a gun and Dublin Airport security staff are convinced it’s a licence to kill.

Even Bond’s tech wizard Q would have snorted at this one – that a tiny gun-shaped charm attached to the mobile phone sock encasing a passenger’s phone sparked a security alert after passing through one of the airport’s X-ray machines.

Passenger Maeve O’Driscoll was proceeding through security on her way to board a flight from Dublin to Cork when a female staff member screening her hand luggage requested a second staff member to search Maeve’s bag.

“I assumed she was searching for my necklace,” Maeve said. “So I was surprised when she said she was not.” The woman then proceeded to remove a knitted mobile phone sock, a novelty protective casing for Maeve’s phone, with a microscopic gun charm attached.

“She said I could not board the flight with the charm but that if I wanted, I could put the sock in a plastic bag and post it back to myself. It wasn’t expensive and I wasn’t bothered about it, so we just cut the charm off. But what did bother me was I couldn’t see any good grounds for preventing me travelling with it. The bottom line was they would not have let me board the plane with it.”

What riled Maeve was the fact that she had passed through security at Dublin Airport on two previous occasions that week, mobile phone sock and gun charm in tow, and no one had raised an eyebrow.

Maeve, from Carrigrohane Road, Cork, purchased the sock in France last year and it has accompanied her through “at least 10 airports” at home and abroad.

A spokesperson for Dublin Airport Authority said the security of the travelling public “is of paramount importance”.

He said staff at DAA’s airports follow policies on security set by the Department of Transport and that “replicas of guns and other weapons are not permitted”.

“However the application of the rules may have been too rigid in this case,” the spokesman said.

On January 2 this year a passenger with a suitcase of explosives flew into Dublin Airport from Slovakia. The DAA did not become aware of this breach until three days later.


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