Passport panic as last-minute travellers try to beat the clock
IT was a desperate race against the clock yesterday as frantic travellers dashed to the Passport Office in Dublin to collect their new passports on time. But for some there will be no jetting off this weekend.
Staff at passport offices in Dublin and Cork refused to man public counters from 1pm yesterday as part of their protest over public sector pay cuts.
At exactly 12.58pm, Seamus Conway emerged from the office on Molesworth Street trundling his suitcase behind him and, more importantly, clutching his new passport. "I'm flying out of Dublin Airport at 3.30pm for JFK. It was a mad dash but now I have to get to the airport," he said before rushing away.
Originally from Westport, Co Mayo, he had to renew his passport before flying back to the US, where he lives now.
But for every person who thanked their lucky stars, there was someone left frustrated as their travel plans were thrown into disarray.
Killian McKay, from Malahide, Co Dublin, was due to fly to the UK today on business and only learned the office would be closed while listening to a news bulletin.
Despite racing into the city centre -- and contending with the chaos at the closed Port Tunnel -- he arrived moments after 1pm. After pleading his case for 10 minutes, he emerged from the office without his passport.
"I was told on Monday to pick up my passport today (Friday) at 4.30pm. I heard about (the closure) on the radio.
"I have to travel for work, I'm in boat sales, and at this time of year this is all you need."
He was told he could apply for a temporary passport through the Department of Foreign Affair's emergency out-of-hours service. However, this comes at an additional cost of €110.
Another business traveller, Conor Fitzpatrick from Tyrone, was due to fly to Turkey last night but only realised at the last minute that his passport was out of date.
"Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about it. I'd say any other day of the week I would have been okay. They just want to cause the maximum disruption."