SINN FÉIN has reiterated its view that the Irish Government must open a passport office in Northern Ireland amid a postal suspension.
The Irish Passport Service announced in December that it was temporarily suspending posting passports to Great Britain and Northern Ireland due to Royal Mail industrial action.
Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) went on several strikes in December and while the union has currently halted strike action, the Passport Service’s suspension remains in place.
Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, Sinn Féin’s Leader in the Seanad, has now called on the government to open a passport office in the North amid rising demand.
Mr Ó Donnghaile, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast, has long advocated for a passport office to be opened in Northern Ireland.
"News that the Irish Passport Office has temporarily suspended posting passports to the North clearly highlights once again the need for the government to open a passport office here," he said.
"As we head into the new year and people plan their holidays this is already causing much uncertainty and concern for travellers.
"This news comes on the back of another record-breaking year [with] just under 128,000 of applications (50,000 of which were first time applications) coming from the north.
"A passport office in the north just makes sense.
"I will again be raising this campaign in the Seanad and would call on the government to engage positively, prepare prudently and deliver for citizens."
Irish Passport Office temporarily suspending posting passports to the Six Counties once again highlights the urgent need for a Passport Office in the north.
— Órfhlaith Begley MP (@OrfhlaithBegley) January 7, 2023
The number of first-time passport applications from Northern Ireland and Great Britain was 100,000 out of more than 1.15million total applications received in 2022.
More than 127,000 first-time and renewal applications came from Northern Ireland, while almost 110,000 were submitted from Britain.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has said the suspension is under review.
"In the meantime, all passports and documentation will be stored securely with the Passport Service in Dublin," added a statement.
Meanwhile, the CWU is due to reopen talks with Royal Mail Group tomorrow and has announced no strike action will take place between January 9-20.