Budget 2016: €4 million for passport modernisation as 6,000 sign up for 'selfie-friendly' cards in first week
'Citizen-focused modernisation plan'
Over 6,000 Irish Passport Cards were applied for in the first week following their launch, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, has revealed.
The extent of the applications was announced in a statement released ahead of his Budget 2016 address to Dáil Éireann today.
Minister Flanagan also highlighted allocations within Budget 2016 for ongoing modernisation of the Passport Service, among other plans for his department.
“I intend to introduce new, world-class technologies to radically re-shape how Irish passports are delivered over the next three years and €4 million has been secured in Budget 2016 to achieve this goal," he said.
Demand for Irish passports has surged in recent years - up from 388,000 in 2000 to 630,000 in 2014, according to Department of Foreign Affairs figures.
So far this year, the Passport Service has processed over 580,000 new passports - up 8.7pc on last year, despite the recent industrial action affecting An Post.
The new Irish Passport Card is one of the first steps in what the Minister called a "citizen-focused modernisation plan" for Irish passports.
The credit-card-sized cards, which will allow Irish citizens to travel in 30 European countries without their passports, were launched last Monday.
Over 2,500 applications were received in the first 24 hours of the card's launch, Independent Travel has learned.
The cards cost €35, have a lifespan of five years, and can be applied for via an app that allows users to take their own 'selfie' passport photos.
Further plans include a "more streamlined" passport applications system, a facility for online renewals, a stronger focus on first-time applicants and a further tightening up against any attempts at passport-related fraud, the Minister added.
"It will also ensure a more seamless and consistent service for Irish citizens wherever they apply for a passport around the world," he said.