This from the Irish Examiner (http://www.irishexaminer.com/irishe...m=ireland-qqqa=ireland-qqqid=20265-qqqx=1.asp) :
Lax airport security ‘fuelling drugs epidemic’
By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent
IRELAND is in the grip of a drugs epidemic due to lax security at private airfields, Oireachtas members yesterday warned, as they demanded that the Revenue Commissioner crack down on smugglers.
Labour’s Finance spokesperson Joan Burton led attacks on revenue chiefs for not taking the problem seriously enough as they appeared before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Ms Burton said drug use in her Dublin West constituency had reached unprecedented levels, partly because of the “open door” access couriers had to the country via the republic’s 27 private airfields.
A major review of security at such entry points is to be discussed with Finance Minister Brian Cowen next week, after a plane which had flown from Weston aerodrome, Dublin, was found loaded with €10 million worth of heroin at a Belgian airstrip in September. Ms Burton said gangs involved in deadly feuds, which have caused mayhem in parts of the capital, may be using the entry points to bring in guns and narcotics.
“Taxis and limousines are able to drive right up to the steps of a private plane without customs checks.
“The amount of drugs flooding into the country at the moment is at an unbelievable level and I strongly believe lack of checks at private airports, and perhaps Shannon, is a major reason.
“The country is awash with drugs because the door is wide open for smugglers.
“The lack of customs checks at these airfields is appalling.
“We are facing an onslaught of drugs and much of it is being brought in by private aircraft and we are simply not doing enough to combat that,” she said.
Ms Burton insisted it was unacceptable that Weston aerodrome was subject to just 18 visits by revenue officers in a six-month period.
She told the PAC she had been advised by US senators that poor security at private airfields in that country had caused a boom in drug imports through those entry points in the early 1990s. Ms Burton added that American visitors arriving at private airports in Ireland for the Ryder Cup had been “shocked” by the lack of security checks.
Revenue Commissioners chairman Frank Daly told the PAC that customs service operations were driven by intelligence and risk assessment.
“We take this matter very seriously. There is no evidence that small airports are a source of large scale drug smuggling.
“We have no indication of that. There are thousands and thousands of private airfields in the US, many of them very remote. There are 27 in Ireland so I am not sure it is a valid comparison,” he said.
Mr Cowen ordered the review of airfield security following the seizure on September 26 of 50kg of heroin at a Belgian air-strip on a plane which was based at, and had flown out of, Weston aerodrome, and the arrest of three Irishmen.