US Custom & Border Protection

April 9th, 2008 - Pat Breen

GOVERNMENT SHOWING NO URGENCY IN EXTENDING THE US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION FACILITY AT SHANNON AIRPORT – BREEN.

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has today expressed his concern that there is no commitment to bring forward legislation in this Dail term to give effect to the extension of the US Customs and Border Protection facility at Shannon Airport. Deputy Breen’s comments follow the publication of the Governments legislation programme for the summer session 2008.

“The Air Navigation Transport Bill Pre Clearance Bill is included in a list of 62 Bills for which heads have yet to be approved. We know how low on the priority list Shannon Airport is in the Department of Transport and there appears to be no Government urgency in getting this project underway.”

“Over an extended period of time I have raised this matter and I have been advised by several arms of Government from the Department of Transport and Marine to the Department of Justice and Law Reform that negotiations are ongoing between Ireland and the US, nevertheless these negotiations appear to be progressing at a snail’s pace. If this legislation does not see the light of day prior to the summer recess then we are looking at late 2008 or possibly 2009 before it will come before the House”.

“During their visits to the US for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities recently neither the Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern T.D.) or the Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Minister Brian Lenihan T.D.) saw fit to raise this matter with the US authorities.”

“Any competitive advantage that Shannon Airport could enjoy by having this facility in place is rapidly eroding. Open Skies became a reality recently and prior to its introduction we were promised a long lead in period to cushion the blow, this failed to materialise, are we about to witness another competitive advantage lost to Shannon Airport due to Government inaction?”

A Serious of Parliamentary Questions Tabled for your information

Dáil Question

No: 475 & 478

*To ask the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 119 of 27 February 2008, if he will report on the progress made to date on negotiations, between Ireland and the US on plans to extend the US customs and border protection facility at Shannon Airport; if legislation is required, if this legislation will come before Dáil Éireann during this term; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen. Answered by Minister for Transport

(Noel Dempsey TD)

REPLY

I propose to answer Questions No. 475 & 478 U.S. proposals for the provision of pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports were submitted to my Department in late December 2007.

Formal negotiations on the proposals commenced with the U.S. authorities on 29 January last and further discussions are envisaged. I look forward to making good progress with the U.S. authorities in the period ahead. Given that the matter is still under negotiation it is too early to say when I will be in a position to publish any necessary legislation.

QUESTION NO: 827

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Lenihan)

by Deputy Pat Breen

for WRITTEN on Wednesday, 2nd April, 2008.

* To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he discussed the extension of the US customs and border protection facility at Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

REPLY.

I did not discuss this issue during my recent Ministerial engagements in the US.

However, my Department has been, and continues to be, involved in the ongoing negotiations with the US authorities on the possible extension of US customs and border protection facilities at Shannon Airport.

GOVERNMENTS PROGRAMME PUBLISHED 02ND APRIL 2008

89

Air Navigation and Transport (Pre-Clearance) Bill

To provide for an agreement between Ireland and the USA for the introduction of pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports for US bound passengers

Publication Expected – Not possible to indicate at this stage

QUESTION NO: *163

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Taoiseach

by Deputy Pat Breen

for WRITTEN ANSWER on Wednesday, 2nd April, 2008.

QUESTION NO: *163

To ask the Taoiseach if he will report on his discussions with the US President, Mr George Bush in Washington recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY.

In the course of my meeting with President Bush on St. Patrick’s Day, we discussed matters relating to Northern Ireland including the forthcoming investment conference, a range of current international issues including the international economy and the position of the undocumented Irish in the US