Backlog of passport applications affecting 113,000 people

Backlog of passport applications affecting 113,000 people

THERE IS currently a large back-log of passport applications in Ireland, leading to calls to upscale efforts to expedite the process.

113,000 people are currently waiting within the service to receive their passports.

Responding to questions in the Dáil last week after he was asked by several TDs about the issue, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he was "aware that there is a pent-up demand for passports due to the challenges with international travel over the past two years".

"I urge citizens to check the validity of their passports before booking travel and to ensure that they apply online in plenty of time," he said. "The processing of an online application is consistently up to four times faster than the processing time of a paper application."

He also outlined how the passport office staffing has been changed over the past several months, and said that since June 2021, staff levels have increased by 70% to 775.

"Significant numbers of staff will continue to be assigned to the Passport Service throughout February and into March," Coveney said.

"In order to protect the integrity and security of the Irish passport, Passport Service staff continued to work on-site over the past challenging two years to deliver this essential service to our citizens.

"Despite pandemic-related disruptions, the Passport Service issued over 634,000 passports in 2021."

Senator Garret Ahearn of Fine Gael also told Newstalk today that he and his colleagues are calling for an upscale in staffing and urgency to treat the backlog as an emergency.

"One of the issues is that we didn't really know when we would reopen, and the expectation was that once we reopened the country people would see the opportunity to go abroad on a holiday," he said.

"It would have to be said that there are just over 50,000 passports issued every month. The majority of those go quite easily.

"Where we do have issues is with more complex ones like first time passports. The has been an issue for a number of months, and there are more people applying now in January than there were back in October."

"What me and my colleagues are asking fo his an upscale in terms of staff and urgency to treat this for the first numbers of months as an emergency.

He also suggested that reminders be sent out to people whens their passports are about to expire so that they can choose the regular passport renewal service and not the emergency one.