-Long processing delays and requirement for new applicants to have a public services card-
Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Deputy Darragh O’Brien is advising people who are due to travel abroad on holidays over the summer to check their passports as it's currently taking up to 6 weeks to process new applications. He also warned new applicants to be aware that they need a public services card to obtain a passport.
“I raised these issues with Minister Flanagan in the Dáil this week, telling him about the anxiety that can be caused to people who have spent significant money on travelling abroad who then find that they cannot travel.
“I’ve been informed that the Passport Office is currently experiencing extraordinary demand for its services. There is a high number of Irish people that are expected to travel to Euro 2016 in France, the Olympics in Rio and this is coupled with an increase in demand for travel abroad,” said Deputy O’Brien.
Deputy O’Brien made the comments after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that 68,281 passport applications are being processed by the Passport Office, this is up over 13% on last year and nearly 14% of all applications are currently behind schedule.
“It would be terrible for any fans that spent great sums of money on travelling to France to support the boys in green in Euro 2016 being unable to attend the tournament due to having an expired passport.
“I told the Minister that despite the passport express service aiming to process applications within 15 working days, I have been contacted by many members of the public left waiting for almost double this time, jeopardising their travel plans. I urged the Minister to reassign department staff to clearing the backlog in passport applications.
“I encourage anyone that is due to travel abroad over the summer to double check their passport to make sure it’s still in date. People need to be aware that it could take up to 6 weeks for new applications to be processed. This could mean that people will miss out on their holidays if they only realise at the last minute that their passport is out of date.
“Since 29 March 2016, all first-time passport applicants who are resident in Ireland and are over 18 years of age are required to hold a valid public services card. This new requirement also applies to the small number of adult applicants whose last passport was issued before 1 January 2005 and which is reported as lost, stolen or damaged. People need to be aware of this also.
“While a passport is not necessary to gain entry to EU counties such as France, many travel companies will nonetheless refuse to accept any other form of identification. The backlog in the Passport Office is also in part being caused by UK citizens applying for Irish passports in case Brexit occurs.
“Fianna Fáil has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan to assign additional resources to the Passport Office to help clear this backlog,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.