Independent TD and former Army Ranger Cathal Berry has said he fears the use of the army at Dublin Airport could inflame a "delicate industrial relations situation".

It was announced during the week that the army was being put on standby to help with security at the airport following the recent delays, which caused thousands of passengers to miss flights.

The daa, which runs the airport, said the regime currently in place is working and the army being put on standby was merely a contingency measure.

Speaking on RTÉ's the Week in Politics, Mr Berry said the introduction of the army to help out had the "potential to make matters worse" in terms of industrial relations.

The Kildare South TD also said the troops would not be paid the same rate as their civilian counterparts.

He said: "We know that there is quite a delicate industrial relations situation in Dublin Airport at the moment. If the troops were to go in, there is the risk of wider industrial action that might shut the entire airport down.

"Secondly, the military are completely strapped for people as it is. The military have been carrying a 20% loss of people for the last number of years and that’s been clearly documented.

"Thirdly, if our armed forces are deployed to the airport it’s very, very clear that they won’t be getting the appropriate rate of pay that would be given to their civilian equivalent."

In response, Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton said the daa and army have different pay agreements with staff and now was not the time to negotiate pay.

He said: "It isn’t a question of when they army is called in that you sit down and try to negotiate new pay rates."

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the issues were due to the redundancies at the airport during the pandemic.

"It’s important keep our airports going, but I think it is extraordinary that we have ended up in this position," he said.

"This is not a situation that was impossible to anticipate."

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the daa had created the problem by making staff redundant and she called for better pay and conditions for workers at the airport.

She said: "This is not a natural disaster or an emergency like foot and mouth [disease], or indeed Covid. This is something that daa should have been planning for, but instead they were letting staff go."

Army members at the airport during the period of Mandatory Hotel Quarantine

SIPTU given assurances over deployment of Defence Forces

SIPTU said its representatives and shop stewards have been given assurances about the deployment of the Defence Forces at Dublin Airport.

The union met with daa management on Friday to discuss the implications for union members following the request from the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan for the Defence Forces to be put on standby at the airport.

SIPTU Aviation Sector Organiser, Niall Phillips, said that during the meeting, clarifications and commitments were given in relation to several issues of importance.

"The contingency plan is specifically Covid-related and will be triggered in the event of a spike in infections among airport security officers and where the related absenteeism exceeds 20% of scheduled staff," Mr Phillips said.

"At no time will our members in vehicle control posts (VCP) be asked, or required, to work alongside Defence Force members or to train them," he added.

SIPTU said that the daa has put in place alternative arrangements for the training of Defence Force personnel which does not involve its members.

"In the event of the contingency plan being activated, all VCP officers would be deployed into the terminals to support the screening of passengers and to ensure that travel disruption is kept to a minimum."

SIPTU said the contingency plan will be in place for a limited period, from 6 July until 15 August, and that after this time its members will revert to normal operations and to their allocated rosters.

"The daa confirmed that there is no threat to the jobs of our members and that this is not a first step in outsourcing VCP," Mr Phillips said.

He added that the daa has agreed to keep SIPTU appraised of Covid-related absenteeism levels among staff.