‘This Is A Very Unscientific Approach’



Dr Maria Gonzalez, a dermatologist, and her husband arrived in Cork Airport (top) recently, on their way to Kerry for a conference at which Dr Gonzalez was speaking, when her husband was stopped by immigration officials for allegedly smelling of marijuana.

Dr Gonzalez has a British passport while her husband has a French passport. They were the only black people on their flight.

In an interview with PJ Coogan, of Cork’s 96 FM, Dr Gonzalez explained:

“After I got out of the toilet, I saw him [her husband] standing by, what I didn’t know at the time was an immigration officer. And I came up to my husband and I said, ‘what’s happening?’ And he said, ‘he said to wait here’. So obviously, I don’t think the officer realised I was with my husband, so I stood waiting with him aswell.

“And he said, ‘oh you’re travelling with him?’. I said, ‘yes’. And once he had waved everybody off that flight off and they had gone to get their bags or whatever, then he looked at my husband and said, ‘you, come with me, because you’re smelling of marijuana’, or something to that effect.”

“In other words he accused him of having a smell of marijuana, you know, on him…Then a couple of Customs officers appeared. One was female, one was male, he also called another person on his phone while he was standing there, saying, ‘come along, are you free to come and help us’ because obviously we were terrible criminals, he needed loads of people to help him.”

They then started saying, ‘Even the passport smells of marijauna’ and so on. So, of course, I’ve never been in Ireland, nor my husband, and it’s a very surreal moment when you’re caught in this kind of exchange and, even though I do a huge amount of travelling, and so we just kept very quiet and just cooperated and went along with our bags and put them wherever they said to and, during the course of the search of our bags – now it was only two small bags because  we were only there for two nights – one of the immigration officers, one of the Customs officers actually, handed my my husband’s passport and said, ‘can’t you smell marijuana on this?’ And I said, ‘well I don’t know the smell of marijuana and this smells like a passport to me’. And I gave it back to him.”

“It was a very unusual series of circumstances and when the staff came and joined him and he was now searching my bag, I actually said, ‘this is only, I’ve been in the UK for 23 years and travelling all over the world and nothing like this has ever happened’, so I said, ‘where are the sniffer dogs because, you know, sniffer dogs, they have 10,000 times the sense of smell as humans which is why they are used for this. And I said, ‘this is a very unscientific approach’. That’s all I said. And he said, ‘well I have 30 years’ experience of doing this kind of work’ and I thought, ‘well that’s it then’.”

“…[Later] they kind of mumbled, they didn’t say, you know, ‘you can go because we found nothing, sorry to keep you’ or anything, they kind of mumbled that since they didn’t have sniffer dogs that we could go.”

“So it was almost like, ‘well, we couldn’t really find what was going on so you can go now’. So, I was happy to take that but the immigration officer, obviously wasn’t best pleased that it ended like that. And he then said, started to target my husband and started shouting at him saying that my husband was insulting his intelligence. In other words he was saying that, you know, he didn’t believe any of this.”

“And then he said to him, ‘so I’m going to caution you, I’m going to caution you, I’m going to keep your details on the system and if you come back into Cork, you know, you’ll be arrested and I think at that point my husband probably said, ‘don’t worry, I won’t ever be back to Cork’.”

“I think that incensed him more and then he started shouting at me and saying that I had insulted his intelligence too. So I was concerned this was not going in the right direction…”

Dr Gonzalez has made a formal complaint about the incident.

Thanks Deirdre O’Shaughnessy

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118 thoughts on “‘This Is A Very Unscientific Approach’

  1. Mickey Twopints

    Welcome to Ireland, Dr. Gonzalez. I see you’ve already met a representative of our underpaid and overworked public service.

    1. realPolithicks

      “underpaid and overworked public service”

      I don’t know if these people are underpaid or overworked, but even if they are it doesn’t give them the right to treat people in this manner.

  2. ahjayzis

    Maybe the recruitment process in future could include questions as to how comfortable is the applicant with the size of his manhood, just to weed out the shoulder chips like.

    I was on a tonne of supplements there last year on a fitness kick and was stopped going through Stanstead because I had about a kilo of different powders and pills in my bag, and the woman who searched it was soooo nice about it, naturally I was bricking it. She was friendly and casual about it while a the same time being really thorough in her search/swabs. The way to do it, a bit of emotional intelligence, avoid conflict, get the job done and everyone’s happy.

      1. ahjayzis

        Shirts or heavy stuff?

        I have the accolade of being the first person to ever do so without posting a single Facebook post about it in the mistaken belief that other people find it interesting though :oD




  3. MoyestWithExcitement

    Pencil penis’d racists are attracted to low skill jobs that give them a tiny sense of power over people? Who knew?

    1. Yep

      The assumption that this was driven by racism is fooking stupid.

      Also, penis size comes into the comment? How is that not to be considered racist?

      They did a terrible job. She has a right to complain…..the extrapolation is just for clicks here.

      When racism occurs it should be highlighted. Assuming it is present is dangerous.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        No, dismissing claims of racism is dangerous. The only black people get stopped for smelling like drugs. 2 + 2 usually equals 4.

        1. Yep

          I’m not dismissing it but as you said it is a claim. They sound rubbish at their job. Racist is assumed.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes it is assumed because they stopped the only black people on the flight to accuse them of smelling of weed. Is far more dangerous to assume that ISN’T racism.

          2. Yep

            If there were verifiable cases of similar methods being used in cases of white people being inconvenienced like this, would it make you reconsider your opinion that this was racially motivated?

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            Why are you so interested in denying the racism here? And no, to answer your question. White people used to own black people so racism by whites against blacks is usually an attempt by the white person to make the black person feel inferior to them. That doesn’t happen the other way around.

          4. Yep

            I’m not denying it moyest. It wouldn’t surprise at all if it was racially motivated. Just that based on this rather patchy account I am not willing to label them racist. I prefer to have all the details and accounts beforehand.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            What more details would you need? They were the only black folk on the flight and they got told they smelled of weed. The lad got told his passport smelled like weed. Again, what more details would you need here, on this Internet blog?

          6. Yep

            Well…the other side of the story would be nice. Do you think it is possible he could smell weed? If your conclusion to shout racist is solely based on this article then I don’t think you are giving it enough thought.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            This is an Internet blog, not a courtroom. We know the only black people on a flight were stopped and told they smell like weed. If it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, it’s probably a dog. I’m comfortable saying racism was in play.

          8. Yep

            It is that comfort with labeling people racist that bothers me. Not just with you but in general. It just dilutes the word. You think they saw them, decided to make work for themselves and inconvenience this couple just because they were non-white?

            It even says in the article that it was AFTER waving the rest of the people on the flight that they were asked to come away with the immigration officer. You don’t even know for sure if officers knew they were the only non-white passengers.

            “This is an Internet blog, not a courtroom”. So no critical thought is needed? You do yourself more of an injustice.

            Also, what the fupp is wrong with customs officers using their nose? It even has italics in the article when mentioning smelling as if smelling weed is crrraaazzzzyyyy.

          9. My Meat is Murder

            I’d point out to the idiots who wrote the post as well that customs officers are not scientists working on some PhD. They use their experience and gut instincts every day to try and keep you safe while flying you ungrateful pair of idiots. So what if they got it wrong in your case? No one died you absolute gimps.

          10. MoyestWithExcitement

            “It is that comfort with labeling people racist that bothers me. Not just with you but in general.”

            It’s rather unfortunate that so many people tend to focus on the word racism than the actual racism. A cynical sort might speculate that it’s generally folks with latent racism trying to deny its existence doing that but I’m all about ice cream and bunny rabbits.

            “So no critical thought is needed?”

            We know that the only black people on the flight were stopped and told they smell like weed and a “very unscientific approach” was used. This is a pub discussion, not a legal enquiry. We have enough information to talk about racism. Critical thought.

          11. Yep

            Hahhaha I was waiting all this time for you to label me racist. Subtle but you got there.
            You have said numerous times it is assumed that this incident was racially motivated. Conclusions based on assumptions is not critical thought.

            We can talk about racism in Ireland. I have seen it first hand and have called it when I felt it wouldn’t endanger me or the victim. It is deplorable and should not accepted by anyone in our society.

            My whole point is that yes, this could easily have been racially motivated and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was, but based on this patchy account (someone mentioned the gap in the timeline before the warning) it shouldn’t be concluded to be.

            We don’t know the other side o the story. The daily working of the terminal or history of the officers involved. The number of similar incidents relating to all races.

            It is not a definitive occurrence of racism.

          12. MoyestWithExcitement

            OK. Saying someone has latent racism is not the same as saying they are racist but how and ever. You realise if you say here on this blog that the chap was probably racist, it doesn’t mean he has to weat a badge saying I’m a racist or anything right? Your refusal to accept the obvious here is a bit odd.

          13. Yep

            Moyest, it is clearly not obvious. That is why we are having the discussion. You think it certainly was and I am saying I am not sure. You seem to be the one unable to concede that without all the facts it is hard to conclude the motive.

            Anyway, we leave it there. I don’t think you come from a bad place Moyest but maybe a more reasonable approach to conversations will do us all a bit of good. Have a nice evening.

          14. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s unfortunate you had to get ruin the civil tone with your patronising but then again, it just consolidates my belief I was onto something with the latent racism given that and the general incoherence of your line of reasoning. Good night.

          15. Yep

            Wow. I thought I came across as civil, and my patronising tone was totally unintended.

            If I offended you personally and not just your opinion it was not my intention. I mean that.

            With regards my “latent racism”…You get how that essentially destroys your argument? Play the words not anonymous commentator. Quote me, basically.

          16. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I don’t think you come from a bad place Moyest but maybe a more reasonable approach to”………”Play the words not anonymous commentator”

            Two posts in a row there. Just saying.

            “With regards my “latent racism”…You get how that essentially destroys your argument?”

            No. Do you think that someone isn’t racist unless they literally say ‘I don’t like black people’ or something?

          17. Yep

            With regards the first quote. That was genuine Moyest. We just spent many minutes of our lives discussing this. I don’t think we made a connection or informed each other too much but I was acknowledging the conversation.

            The bit about “maybe a more reasonable approach to”…… Well this is what I mean. You play these words and attribute something that is not there (see your critique of the second quote) to them. Not anything before where I was actually comment about the topic.

            I read here fairly regularly but the amount of time you spend here to try and forcefully impose your seemingly uniformed opinion is weird to me.

            LJG is more of a benefit to this site than you….and I am sorry but I mean that.

          18. MoyestWithExcitement

            And you continue to get personal. OK. You’re clearly not capable of civility. Good evening.

      2. Sheik Yahbouti

        Mentioning a penis is racist? WTF. They were the ONLY black people on the flight, according to the article. Something stinks, and it ain’t marijuana

        1. Yep

          It is a racial stereotype. Bringing penis envy into the discussion is crass at the very least. My comment about inherent athletic ability was deleted.

          My point was that some racial stereotypes are fine where others are not.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Bringing penis envy into the discussion”

            That’s not what I was doing.

          2. Yep

            “That’s not what I was doing.”

            I’ll take your word for it. You can see where I would get that idea though, right?

    2. Rob_G

      “low skill jobs”

      I’m sure that if the Custom and Excise workers went on strike looking for an outrageous increase, you would be on here saying that it was incredibly skilled work, and that they were worth every cent of of their 50% pay increase, etc.

    3. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

      Lol – also to trolling on the interwebs

      Takes one to know one as they say

        1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

          Depends – do you go round waving your pencil penis at home as much as you do at work?

          1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            I don’t need to borrow any of your girls right now but thanks for the offer.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Oh no, I meant the strap on you borrowed. I don’t want it baclear for hygienic reasons but you should probably get rid of it anyway. It must be a constant reminder of your…um…”inadequacies”. Can’t be good for your already clearly very low self esteem.

          3. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            Voltaire lived during the Enlightenment whereas Aristotle was an early Greek philospher. It would have been somewhat challenging to stage that debate.

  4. Polaroid Fluid

    irish people are the shame of europe in fairness, incompetent and arrogant always getting their back up when they are found out for the utter fraud they are

    1. Rob_G

      I think you are being unjust; sure, they were unlucky and encountered an ar5ehole – there are ar5eholes the world over.

  5. Polaroid Fluid

    and stop censoring , face up to other people differing opinions you small willy-filled ladyparts.

  6. Murtles

    Not surprising from da cork boyos. Was watching a programme recently about Irish Customs at Cork Airport and it was cringe worthy then. One fella was asking passengers of a flight from France to stay in a single line and probably the same fella who went mad above was shouting at the passengers in an attempt at French. It literally was “Una Lena Sill Voot Platt” in the thickest Cork accent you could hear. A lot of the passengers were laughing at this which I think was the cause of the shouting as he got thick about it.

  7. Disasta

    They’re not exactly the cream of the crop. Doesn’t excuse this mans ignorance.
    I’m really sorry you had to experience this ignorance first hand, but it’s everywhere.
    I know first hand from travelling too.

  8. Cabbage Bazooka Firing Squad

    In fairness the name on her husband’s passport was Ganja McSkinupbruv

  9. Liam from Lixnaw

    I flew from Sydney to Bangkok to Heathrow and into Cork- carrying a Didgeridoo – customer fella jumps out in from of me – “Hey, where are you coming from?”

  10. nellyb

    Sniffing Appreciation Society, ah bless! What else do officers gather to sniff?
    Apart from maltreatment of visitors, it is brilliant :-)

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      always sew contraband into the crotch of your used panties.. no cork man will sniff that in front of you. or am I wrong ?

  11. Tish Mahorey

    “I’m going to caution you, I’m going to keep your details on the system and if you come back into Cork, you know, you’ll be arrested”

    Oh yeah? Arrested for what exactly. His statement makes no sense.

  12. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

    Fair play Dr Gonzalez and husband.

    I’m always profoundly impressed by folks who retain their decorum in the face of the most neanderthal provocation.

    Like I do every day on this thing

  13. Tish Mahorey

    This is very strange by a member of GNIB who are Gardaí. If this is the level of their ignorance then you can be sure that the real smugglers are filing through unchallenged on a daily basis.


    Was it was a distraction to draw officers away from an ‘arranged’ smuggler to get through?

    1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

      Maybe you’re not flying often (wouldn’t surprise me as you seem like a bedsit-confined bedwetter)

      But they have civilians doing that work now also

  14. Owen C

    The whole thing makes sense until these two paragraphs…

    ““So it was almost like, ‘well, we couldn’t really find what was going on so you can go now’. So, I was happy to take that but the immigration officer, obviously wasn’t best pleased that it ended like that. And he then said, started to target my husband and started shouting at him saying that my husband was insulting his intelligence. In other words he was saying that, you know, he didn’t believe any of this.”

    “And then he said to him, ‘so I’m going to caution you, I’m going to caution you, I’m going to keep your details on the system and if you come back into Cork, you know, you’ll be arrested and I think at that point my husband probably said, ‘don’t worry, I won’t ever be back to Cork’.””

    1. why did the immigration officer suddenly start shouting at the gentleman, saying he was insulting his intelligence? Was something said that has been left out?
    2. What exactly was he cautioned with?

    Its quite a confusing end to it all.

  15. Clampers Outside!

    The man was clearly a little Hitler on a power trip! Would love that to happen me, so long as I wasn’t carrying my usual 5kgs of craic-cocaine-sugar-replacement-powder-medicine.

  16. Observer


    All very odd.

    I’ve been hauled aside in three times in airports over the years. I’ve never started telling the cops how to do their business or whatever. I’ve shut up, let the lads look through my bags and the one time they were interested in my stamps, my previous travel and doubted the authenticity of my passport answered their questions as civilly and politely as possible.

    Adopting a superior attitude with authority figures and pointing out that they are daft doesn’t really work. It didn’t work in school with teachers, didn’t work at home with my parents and is unlikely to work in foreign countries with cops.

    Plus I doubt the Guard escalated to a caution based on what we have heard stated here. It would be interesting to hear their account; the truth probably lying in the middle.

    1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

      Haha the perverse assumption folks make that authority must never be perverse, utilitarian or contrary

      last seen at a paedo abusing priest cover up near you

      1. Observer

        I generally assume authority to be perverse and contrary. I don’t actually generally assume it to be utilitarian.

        Given those assumptions, I tend to avoid goading authority when I am outside my comfort zone. Foreign airports are one place where I am confident that goading authority no matter how perverse or contrary is unlikely to meet success.

        1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

          Well ok. Some people on the other hand expect to be treated with respect by everyone.

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          “I tend to avoid goading authority”

          And some like to speak up when “authority” abuse their “authority”. Such is life.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            There ya go. Thays the reason for your post. Them speaking up subconsciously reminded you that you’re to scared to do that which makes you feel uncomfortable.

          2. Observer

            I am a weak person. But thankfully through the wonderful medium of the internet I have the opportunity, through you, of learning my weakness and seeing a path towards normalcy.

            I feel uncomfortable. That is most definitely true. But that’s probably because I am slouching in my chair.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes, and those uppity foreigners now know to respect the law thanks to your well thought out post on an Internet blog.

  17. Yer Man There

    The fella seems very paranoid about people insulting his intelligence, must get it allowed.

    1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

      I don’t know – there are fellas who go around even on this here internet board offering the loan of girls, strap-ons etc – it would test your patience it really would.

      I’m looking at you moyestie

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Still keeping that picture you took of me in the shower in your wallet then.

  18. 15 cents

    dunno why the couples race was brought up, but anyway, i hope action is actually taken against that awful butthead. probably wont be. but he’s not a great ambassador for ireland or cork.

    1. Cabbage Bazooka Firing Squad

      It might be because of the massive problem of institutional racism and the possibility that this is a manifestation of it.

      It would be great to believe that the lads down in Cork are equal opportunity passport-sniffers,obviously that’s the outcome we all want. But we have to be prepared for the worst.

    2. MoyestWithExcitement

      The only black people on the flight were stopped and told they smell like weed. I think their race is relevant there.

      1. rotide

        I assume they aren’t the only 2 black people to ever go through cork airport.

        If they didn’t stop any other black people that day but some white people, is it still racist?

      2. My Meat is Murder

        You have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this man was influenced by racism. In fact it’s quite racist to read these black people were involved in a suspected illegal drug possession and then were profiled simply because of their race. The only person in that tale so far proved to be reaching a conclusion of racism as the only motivation for the man’s action is well, yes, you’ve all guessed it, folks. Trollbot v2.1 limited edition this time.

  19. J

    Am guessing MoyestwithExcitement is a tad cross-eyed from his outward look for validation and inward contradiction.

  20. Lu

    Am I the only one who is shocked that there was actually a customs person in Cork Airport?! Times have clearly changed!

  21. The People's Hero


    I can’t think of anything more insulting to say…..

    1. B Hewson

      Hehe. Anyway, so he was caught smoking dubie on the sly from his wife who hasn’t a clue. He tells his mates she doesn’t even know what is smells like and walks around stoned constantly. He even got a sneaky spiff in I the airport car-park before check-in. Fair dues to the fella. Or am I missing something…

  22. phil

    Come on now, this is just one side of the story , and very small snippet , I need to know what they were up to from 10 yrs ago up to the incident , what they thought about Howard Marks etc… and then the customs officer, I think we should talk to his mother…

    All joking aside , I know what that feels like being and Irish passport holder passing thru the UK in the 90’s with one way tickets, something about me attracted attention .

  23. wearnicehats

    I used to fly between Belfast and London 2 or 3 times a week in the late 80s. In the old days your luggage was laid out for you on the tarmac and you had to identify it before you were let on the flight. Belfast flights were put through the worst hellhole arse-end of heathrow they could find. You practically had to show them the inside of your hole to get on the plane. Why? Because of stereotypes that had enough basis in fact to warrant a reaction. Shit happens. Get over it. Don’t come back if that’s how you feel

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