The public strongly support the Defence Forces stepping in to deal with any future chaos at Dublin Airport, a poll has found.
The Sunday Independent found that 64% of Irish people agreed that troops should work at the airport is short-staffed.
The poll is a vindication of the Government’s decision to train the military to work in airport security if needed. Earlier this week, Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughton described the policy as an “extra security blanket if you like to ensure that passengers will make their flights if there are issues at the airport.”
However, Conor King, General Secretary of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, said there had been a lack of engagement with soldiers about their new role:
“Despite numerous requests, the Department of Defence refused to meet with Defence Forces’ employee representatives to discuss critical issues of rostering, working conditions and remuneration,” he complained to Newstalk.
“In relation to the poll, I’m not at all surprised at the result; the public obviously want to avoid any possible disruption to planned travel and Defence Forces members and their families are no different.”
Despite the Government’s intervention, more travel chaos is on the way; Ryanair staff in Spain have announced 12 days of industrial action this month over pay and conditions and three further Aer Lingus flights were cancelled today because COVID-related absenteeism.
It is an issue that Padraig Ó Ceidigh, the founder of Aer Lingus Regional, believes will take months to resolve:
“I believe this is something that’s going to take anything between four and six months to resolve,” he explained to Newstalk.
“Because there are a combination of factors that are seriously impinging flights and cancelling flights - not only in Dublin but all over Europe as well.
“Obviously, one of them is the huge breakout in COVID; allied to that are the issues that airports are having - particularly Dublin Airport - with regards to enough manpower or person power.”
Main image: An Irish Defence Forces arm patch of a soldier in the Irish Army.