Video: Daa and Passport Office to increase staff, coastguard inquest continues

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Dublin Airport chaos

It could be months before chaos at Dublin Airport subsides and the airport returns to normal operations, according to an industry expert.

Founder of Aer Lingus Regional, Pádraig Ó Céidigh, said it will take the summer to solve the crisis linked to staff shortages following pandemic lay-offs.

It comes amid fears this bank holiday weekend could see a repeat of chaotic queues, as close to a quarter of a million passengers are set to depart from the airport over the next five days.

“In my view, this will not be resolved until probably September/October time when it gets back to some normality again,” Mr Ó Céidigh told Newstalk radio.

“They will require a number of months to train up people, to employ an adequate number of people and so on for their 16 security lanes and other areas at the airport.

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“So it’s going to take probably another four to six months to regularise the whole aught again and get Dublin Airport back to where it was.”

Passport office staff to double

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has indicated a plan to speed up delays in issuing passports, including more than doubling passport office staff numbers.

Staff numbers dealing with customers in the passport office will increase from 60 to 140 in two weeks’ time, according to a report in the Irish Examiner, while a new system of Garda certification has also been introduced.

It comes amid record applications for passports, with current demand beating 2019 which had been the busiest year by almost 20 per cent.

Around 50 applications a day are stalled due to those applying being asked to get new consent forms, because officials in the passport office are unable to contact the witnessing garda.

Inquest jury rules deaths of Rescue 116 crew were accidental

The jury at the inquest into the deaths of four Irish Coast Guard aircrew in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has recorded verdicts of accidental death.

The jury of eight started deliberations on Wednesday afternoon and resumed on Thursday morning.

In her address to the jurors ahead of their deliberations, Mayo coroner Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald said the incident appeared to her to be an accident, but that it was their decision to agree on.

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Rescue 116 crashed off Co Mayo at 12.46am on March 14th, 2017 during a search-and-rescue mission with four crew on board, after it struck Blackrock Island, 12 miles off the Irish coast.

Gardaí launch road safety appeal for bank holiday

A nationwide policing effort marking National Slow Down Day is in effect as gardaí launch a road safety appeal for the bank holiday weekend.

The 24-hour enforcement operation encouraging drivers to reduce their speed will remain in force until 7am on Friday.

Gardaí will also be focusing on enforcement of speed limits and other lifesaver offences over the long weekend, with 90 people killed or seriously injured in crashes during the June bank holiday over the last five years.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, of Roads Policing and Community Engagement, said: “We are asking all drivers to support our National Slow Down Day not just on Slow Down Day but every day.

Sinn Féin sees surge of support among farmers

Sinn Féin has trebled its support among farmers since 2016, but farmer support for the party still lags well behind its overall support levels.

Recent opinion polls have Sinn Féin at around 35 per cent, twice the level of their support among farmers, according to an Irish Farmers Journal survey.

The poll has some bad news for Fine Gael though.

The party is currently at its lowest level of farmer voting since 2007 at 37 per cent, a drop of 11 per cent since 2018.

Political correspondent with the Irish Farmers Journal, Pat O'Toole, told Newstalk that it is the first time Sinn Féin has broken the 10 per cent mark when it comes to farmer support.

The survey of 1,248 farmers carried out by the Irish Farmers Journal revealed what way farmers would vote in a general election.

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