The Minister for Transport and Minister of State at the Department of Transport have pledged to "work closely" with State bodies to ensure the illegal use of drones is tackled effectively.

It comes after the operator of Dublin Airport said investigations have verified there were drones in use close to the airport on Saturday afternoon and yesterday evening.

However, daa said it has concluded there was no drone present on Friday, despite reported sightings of a device within the 5km exclusion zone around the airport.

Flight operations were suspended yesterday evening for safety reasons after a drone sighting on the airfield.

It was the third time since Friday that drone sightings on the airfield have disrupted flights. Six flights were diverted on Saturday due to drone sightings.

It is illegal to fly drones within 5km of the airport.

Eamon Ryan and Jack Chambers were briefed this evening by the daa, Irish Aviation Authority, Department of Justice and gardaí on the situation at Dublin Airport over the Bank Holiday weekend.

In a statement following the meeting, the ministers condemned what they described as "the unacceptable disruption to passengers arising from the incidents over the weekend."

They said the measures taken in recent days, including the suspension of flight operations, were in line with international best practice on aviation safety.

Minister Ryan and Minister Chambers also reiterated that they take this issue very seriously and said "the safety of passengers, airline crew and those within the airport is the primary consideration for all involved".

The statement added that "at an operational level, all the relevant bodies have committed to working together to ensure a rapid and effective response to such incidents".

It said the Dublin Airport operator has a drone detection system in operation that gives early warning of illegal drone activity and it said "information garnered from this system is being used to pursue enforcement activity, including prosecution".

"Summary proceedings and proceedings on indictment can be brought under both civil aviation legislation and the criminal code with the possibility of sentences of up to seven years on conviction."

The ministers also said they will engage with other Government departments "to strengthen our ability to deal with such incidents, including exploring the potential for enhanced technological solutions".

A policy framework for unmanned aircraft systems, due to be published in the second quarter of the year, is in development and will include measures on enforcement and compliance.

A spokesperson for daa said the investigations into the various drone incidents over the weekend are continuing.

Graeme McQueen, the daa media relations manager, said the airport is "keen to see prosecutions follow in the near future to help send a clear message to drone owners that the flying of drones within the 5km exclusion zone around Dublin Airport is strictly forbidden and is illegal."

He said "the drone detection system in place at the airport, working in tandem with input from airline pilots, ground crew and Air Traffic Control, provides a robust monitoring system which allows for a safe and timely response to these incidents to allow us to focus on our top priorities, safety and security."

Mr McQueen said "the flying of drones near Dublin Airport is reckless."

"Daa strongly urges drone owners to follow the strict regulations on the operation of drones to avoid a repeat of the disruption to our passengers, airline partners over recent days," he added.

It comes ahead of a meeting convened by the Minister for Transport and the Minister of State at the Department of Transport for a briefing on recent drone activity at the airport.

Gardaí have said they are carrying out an investigation into the incidents.

In a statement, An Garda Síochána said officers in Dublin Airport were alerted to a call shortly after 7pm yesterday to a confirmed sighting of a drone at Dublin Airport.

"Gardaí conducted a search of the area and the matter is being fully investigated," gardaí said.

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Aer Lingus has called for measures to prevent the disruption caused by drones to be expedited.

The airline said it was forced to divert two flights due to the weekend's drone sightings.

It said the "severe disruption imposed on passengers, airlines and other stakeholders" is unacceptable.

"Measures to address the drone issue must be now expedited in order to put a halt to this disruption," the airline said in a statement.

"The Plan for Aviation Safety, which contains actions to address the risks of drone infringements, and which has already been published, must be progressed as a matter of urgency.

"The impact of drone infringements was very much evident for many people flying in and out of Dublin Airport this weekend, and an immediate action plan must now be enacted without delay".

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Meanwhile a Ryanair spokesperson has accused Mr Ryan of being "asleep at the wheel" over the long weekend.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dara Brady, Ryanair's Director of Marketing and Communications, said that only convening a meeting now days after the event has meant that thousands of passengers were impacted both departing the airport and arriving.

He said Ryanair had been calling on the minister to take action on Saturday and Sunday but all that has come out of that was a "watery" statement.

Retired Air Corps Lieutenant Colonel and airport security and safety auditor Kevin Byrne said the effects of an airplane ingesting a drone would be "extremely dangerous".

"You will probably lose the engine because, unlike a bird, this thing is made of metal and plastic and will cause the catastrophic failure of an engine," he told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne.

"It's criminal and it should be stopped."

Additional reporting Karen Creed