New passport checks linked to an Interpol database are being carried out at Dublin Airport amid the heightened threat of global terrorism.
The move has already become a key part of immigration security and is also seen as a big boost to anti-terrorism efforts to track the movements of suspected jihadis.
It comes as police forces across Europe review security arrangements for events over Christmas and New Year following the deadly incidents in Berlin and Ankara on Monday.
Twelve people died after a lorry ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital in what police believe was a deliberate terrorist attack.
The carnage came hours after Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was gunned down at a photography exhibition in Ankara.
In major security developments at Dublin Airport, immigration officers can now carry out instant checks on passports and other travel documents with the international database.
Up until recently, checks with Interpol could only be carried out infrequently at the airport – and usually in circumstances where there were already suspicions.
But the new automated system has now been developed and gives an instant response from Interpol.
Security measures have been tightened up considerably since the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium over the past year.
The Irish and British governments have signed a deal for the exchange of details of passenger lists for all airlines and ferry companies operating within the common travel area.
The threat level here remains at ‘moderate’, which means that a jihadi terror attack is possible but not likely.
But concerns remain that fighters returning to Europe from Syria could use Ireland as a transit point with the aid of false documentation.
A new automated system has now been developed that provides for passports and other travel documents to be scanned and an automatic ‘hit/not hit’ response received from the Interpol database.
A senior immigration official told the Irish Independent: “This enables the system to be deployed to front line immigration officers at control booths.”
The system went live on November 29 at Dublin Airport.