Tuesday 10 December 2019

Martin urged to issue emergency travel certificates

People queued outside the Passport Office on Molesworth Street in Dublin yesterday
People queued outside the Passport Office on Molesworth Street in Dublin yesterday
Christina Kilpatrick from Tallaght, was waiting for her passport yesterday
Sonia Pires from Portadown, Co Armagh, with her three-year-old daughter Erica
Ladybird Gamboa pictured outside the Passport Office yesterday

Hundreds of angry customers were again queuing outside Dublin's passport office today in a desperate bid to get new travel documents.

Fine Gael's Billy Timmins called on Minister Martin to use existing laws to issue emergency travel certificates and end the deep frustration and heartbreak being felt by thousands of Irish citizens.

"The provision only requires that there be 'a reasonable cause to believe that the person is or may be an Irish citizen'," he said.

"This is an emergency situation and the Minister for Foreign Affairs must put in place a mechanism to ensure that emergency travel certificates are issued from his Department without delay."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned staff they will not be paid if they refuse to attend to the public counter to deal with the backlog of 40,000 applications.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin yesterday pleaded with employees to call a work-to-rule as crunch talks with unions and Government officials continue.

Union leaders have claimed a valuable printing machine damaged in a flood last Monday had compounded problems and left hundreds of irate customers queuing inside and outside the Molesworth Street offices in Dublin.

It is estimated it will now take up to 20 working days for a passport application to be processed.

Mr Timmins said it is outlandish to suggest a 40,000 backlog in passport applications has arisen because of the events of the last week.

"The 'go-slow' over the last ten weeks has seen an inevitable build up of applications that the system cannot now cope with," he added.

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