To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to open a regional passport office in the border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. - Darragh O'Brien.
REPLY The Passport Service offers a range of convenient channels for submission of passport applications by Irish citizens, at home and abroad. Advice and guidance on these channels and other useful information on passports is available on the Department’s website at https://www.dfa.ie/passports The award-winning online Passport Renewal Service for adults was launched in March 2017 and offers the convenience of an online application system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Irish citizens anywhere in the world, without the need for application forms, printed photos or witnesses. People who cannot or do not wish to apply online have the option of applying through their local post office. In 2017, over 400,000 citizens availed of this option and submitted their passport application through the network of more than one thousand post offices across the State. The Northern Ireland Passport Express service offers an equivalent service to those living in Northern Ireland from more than 70 of its post offices. Bearing in mind the availability of both the online and postal application channels, very few citizens living in the island of Ireland are required to travel a significant distance in order to apply for their passport. In the relatively small number of cases where citizens need to travel very urgently and do not have a valid passport, the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork offer an appointment service. The Passport Service keeps passport demand under review on an ongoing basis. It is already planned to further extend the online application facility to all citizens, including first-time applicants and children, by 2019. In all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the range of service options available meets the current needs of passport applicants.