105. Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of An Garda Síochána conducting spot-checks on the contents of planes landing at Irish airports for refuelling purposes to ensure that they are not carrying goods or munitions that make the landing contrary to Irish law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45480/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft is accorded to the Minister for Foreign Affairs under the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952.
Arrangements under which permission is granted for foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports are governed by strict conditions. These include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations.
The Garda authorities consider fully in accordance with the law information in respect of any request to search an aircraft. An Garda Síochána remains fully committed to investigate all alleged breaches of criminal law involving the use of aircraft at Irish airports.
Statutory powers of search and entry are bestowed on An Garda Síochána under various legislative provisions and when authorised by a Judge. However, these powers are exercised in circumstances where a member of An Garda Síochána has a reasonable suspicion that an offence has occurred supported by some evidence. The mere assertion of wrongdoing by a member of the general public is clearly insufficient in this regard.
An Garda Síochána has investigated a range of complaints of alleged unlawful activity at Shannon Airport and, where appropriate, files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In all these cases, no further action was found to be warranted, owing to a lack of any evidence of unlawful activity.
I would point out, for the sake of clarity, that An Garda Síochána has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft which, in accordance with international law, enjoy sovereign immunity.