Government to buy anti-drone technology after airport disruption

Government to buy anti-drone technology after airport disruption

'No Drone Zone' signs on the perimiter fence at Dublin Airport. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Government plans to purchase anti-drone technology following ongoing disruptions at Dublin Airport.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and junior minister Jack Chambers will bring a memo for information to Cabinet tomorrow and will set out an assessment of concerns around drones impacting infrastructure across the State.

Mr Ryan is expected to inform ministers on the acquisition of anti-drone technology, looking at what is the best technology for Ireland.

The technology can typically disable drones by interfering with the controller connection, essentially blocking the signal of the drone.

Other technology that will be considered can bring a drone down safely.

Officials have examined the system in place at other European airports that have anti-drone technology, including in the UK.

Flights have been suspended at Dublin Airport several times due to drone activity.
Flights have been suspended at Dublin Airport several times due to drone activity.

However, Mr Ryan has warned it will be a number of weeks before it will be up and running at Dublin Airport.

He said his department was working with the airport and aviation authorities to see what measures could be taken in the meantime to help prevent disruption.

Last week was the sixth time since early January that flights have been suspended at Dublin Airport due to drone activity.

Discussions at Cabinet will also focus on who will have the responsibility to operate the anti-drone technology and the wider security question on drone activity at prisons and the impact they could have on the State’s energy infrastructure.

Legal framework

Education Minister Norma Foley said it was important the right type of technology was purchased and the correct legal framework is in place.

She acknowledged the need for a “more robust system”, but said gardaí do have the "authority to gather evidence” and that “cases go to the DPP”.

“I don’t for one minute underestimate the extraordinary challenge and difficulties, and indeed frustrations that are being visited on everyone,” said Ms Foley.

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly criticised the lack of urgency around the matter, saying there have been six interruptions already, and it is only now that a memo is being brought to Cabinet.

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