Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Cllr. Cathal Crowe has warned that Shannon airport could be next airport to suffer disruption as a result of drone activity, while stressing the need to enact legislation to tackle the problem.

Fianna Fáil published the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) Bill 2017 over two years ago and it’s now at second stage in the Dáil.

Cllr. Crowe said, “We’ve had two incidents at international airports over the past two months, which have resulted in airport closures.  While the closure at Dublin last week lasted less than an hour it still resulted in diverted flights and discommoded passengers.  The situation in Gatwick before Christmas was an indication of just how disruptive a drone can be, with hundreds of flights cancelled and a cost to the airlines of an estimated $64.5m.

“Despite the Taoiseach’s claim that we have quite robust legislation, the closure of Dublin airport last week sent a clear signal that the law does not go far enough.  Until robust legislation is brought into force a threat is still posed, and Shannon airport could be the next target.

“Shannon has Ireland’s longest runway and is the last airport accessible for transatlantic flights, not only to and from Ireland, but to and from Europe.  It is regularly used for emergency landings and it a key piece of State infrastructure with almost 2 million passengers passing through the terminal every year.

“Other countries have responded to this emerging threat more rapidly – the UK has granted more powers to police forces to intercept drones and their operators, while Canada passed emergency legislation after Christmas.  It’s time for the government here to act.

“Fianna Fáil has already drafted the legislation, but the government needs to progress it more urgently.  It ensures that drones are registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and that all owners are issued with a registration certificate by the IAA. If the government is serious about addressing the threat to Irish airspace it should be moving this Bill through the Dáil and Seanad so that it can be signed into law as soon as possible”, concluded Cllr. Crowe.