There is no requirement for primary legislation around the use of “counter drone” technology, Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers has said the Attorney General informed him.
The Attorney General had noted there may be a requirement for a statutory instrument under existing legislation so there will not be a legal barrier to the technology being put in place, Mr Chambers added.
“Both myself and Minister [for Transport Eamon] Ryan have engaged with the Attorney General on this. He reassured us that there isn’t a requirement for primary legislation around the deployment of counter-drone technology,” he told RTÉ Radio’s Today show.
Mr Ryan said last week that technology with the capability of bringing down drones would be introduced as quickly as can be done safely. He said he would be bringing a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday but that it would take a number of weeks to acquire the necessary equipment.
Once Cabinet gives approval, the first step would be to purchase the necessary equipment and then a decision will have to be taken on who will deploy the new technology, he said. A number of suppliers were being considered. Mr Ryan pointed out that anti-drone technology was continually evolving and the Government wanted to ensure that Dublin Airport had the best equipment available.
Mr Chambers said today there was a process under way to ensure the State could purchase, procure and operate the technology. The Irish Aviation Authority would also, in parallel, scale up the training of personnel and develop safety systems so counter-drone technology can be deployed within a number of weeks.
Mr Chambers said the first priority was to ensure the immediate procurement of the technology for Dublin Airport so that it could be introduced as soon as possible. The second issue was the broader requirement to protect not only airports, but also national infrastructure such as energy generation, telecommunications, hospitals and Garda stations. “That’s why in parallel to the decision to protect the Dublin Airport Authority, it is important that we accelerate a medium-term solution around counter-drone technology across the State.
“It’s important we assess the wider infrastructure across the State and procure, where necessary or where recommended, counter-drone technology. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
DAA, the operator of Dublin Airport, had last week called for new legislation and a State agency responsible for managing counter-drone technology after it was forced to suspend temporarily flights on Thursday evening.
Dublin Airport suspended flight operations that evening for 30 minutes as a result of drone activity in the area.
Kenny Jacobs, chief executive of DAA, said in a statement: “We are glad that the State has made a decision on this important issue. Given this is a State-wide issue, we remain of the view that the ultimate owners of this must be An Garda Síochána or the Department of Defence.
“However, we are already progressing this at pace in the interests of the public safety and to prevent travel disruption. Exact timelines cannot be confirmed just yet given the requirement to identify and procure the most suitable technology, engage with the Irish Aviation Authority on its use and train those that will ultimately deploy it.
“But we are moving very quickly, and we will have this technology in place as soon as possible.”