Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research & Development, James Lawless TD, has called on the Government to immediately progress the ‘Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) Bill 2017’, which is currently at second stage in Dáil Éireann. Deputy Lawless was commenting on the need to enact legislation to regulate the use of drones given the recent disruptions at UK airports which have impacted thousands of passengers.

Deputy Lawless explained, “Minister Ross has acknowledged that what happened recently in the UK could happen here in Ireland. He has convened a meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group to discuss Irish vigilance on the issue.

“Drones present many interesting opportunities for both personal and commercial use. But recently we have seen a more sinister side with widespread travel disruption, huge financial losses and potential risk of life.

“I introduced my Bill to regulate the usage of drones over two years ago and yet it still sits at second stage in the Dáil. If the Government were serious about protecting Irish airspace from this threat, they would work with the existing legislation available to them.

“Drones are freely available and largely untraceable. They are available without age restrictions or registration. My Bill would ensure that drones are registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and that prior to use the owner must be issued with a registration certificate by the IAA.

“It’s clear that drones can provide many benefits, but in the wrong hands they are quite literally weapons. Legislation and a framework on their use is required. I am calling on the Government to progress my Bill and see it through the legislative process”, concluded Deputy Lawless.