Dublin Airport Authority executive ‘not aware’ of airport welfare inspections

Dublin Airport Authority executive ‘not aware’ of airport welfare inspections
Coronavirus – Thu May 28, 2020

A Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) executive has said he is not aware of social welfare inspectors questioning passengers at Dublin Airport.

The Government has cut pandemic unemployment payments to more than 100 people who travelled abroad following checks at airports.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said people on the payment should be seeking work and Government advice states people should avoid non-essential travel abroad.

The issue of passenger information and who has access to it was raised multiple times during a hearing of the Dail’s Covid-19 committee.

Dublin Airport and Cork Airport are not involved in the collection of any information in relation to people's PPS numbers or anything in relation to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) or any similar information

Ray Gray, Dublin Airport Authority

Ray Gray, chief financial officer at DAA, told the committee that “he personally” was not aware of Department of Social Protection officials or welfare inspectors questioning passengers at Dublin Airport.

He said: “My awareness is from things that I have heard in the media in the last number of days. I have no personal or professional information regarding that.

“Dublin Airport and Cork Airport are not involved in the collection of any information in relation to people’s PPS numbers or anything in relation to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) or any similar information.

“That information might be obtained at the airport by other authorities.”

He said there are various state agencies, including customs and Garda officers, at the airport and the DAA has no oversight of their activities.

Mr Gray said: “I have no personal or professional information regarding who collects this data on passengers.”

Asked if he knew when passengers were checked at airports to see if they are on the PUP, he said: “Regrettably deputy, I am unable to assist you with  your inquiry in this regard … if there is information that is being collected then those parties that are collecting the information, be it through the state or other parties that operate at airports.”

Mr Gray was pressed by a number of TDs about the practice.

He said the DAA does not police the collection of data by other organisations.

Mr Gray added: “The information that is being collected at airports, I have said categorically, is not being collected by the DAA. There are a series of stage agencies operating at airports.

“They operate under their mandate and arrangements and do not require specific permission from us to operate nor indeed do they have to inform us of their activities and that is regrettably why I am unable to be more helpful to the committee this morning.”

Committee chairman Michael McNamara called on the DAA to clarify whether it was aware that Department of Social Protection officials were operating in the company’s airports within the next 48 hours.

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