A drone flying over a housing estate in Foxford at 4.45am has led to a local councillor calling for much tighter regulations on the use of drones.
Cllr Neil Cruise has called for all drones to be registered to an owner and all drones to be identified by a registration number.
He made the call at last Friday’s meeting of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee.
“It has been brought to my attention there are people putting out drones at 4.45am around estates in Foxford. I think it is totally unacceptable practice. People deserve safety and privacy in their own homes. Drones can be so invasive.
“Why that person was flying a drone around Foxford at 4.45am, I don’t know whether they are a peeping Tom or what they are.
“There are new Irish Aviation Authority regulations for drones but I don’t think they go half far enough. If your drone is over one kg in weight, you’ve to register it but I don’t think we’ve any major policy on the usage of drones. What can the gardaí do?
“If a person is buying a drone, you should need to produce a driving license or a passport and the drone you buy should have an identification number on it so if it is used improperly for crime or questionable activities, it can be traced back to you,” said Cllr Cruise.
Responding, Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna said tighter regulations were needed.
“You would have to question the motives of anyone flying a drone at 4.45am in the morning in a housing estate. There are regulations that they are not to be flown in urban areas, they are not supposed to be flown within five kilometres of an airport. There is new legislation at EU level being drafted for drones. If a drone has a camera, prosecutions have come out under Data Protection legislation because it affects privacy. I would be hoping new legislation would specify the need for an identity document and would be ascribed with a number similar to a registration plate on a vehicle,” he said.