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Sunday 23 September 2018

'We might have to cancel the holiday altogether' - Family waiting two months for baby's passport

Dwayne Dunning, his partner Laura Mason and their 12-week old son Harvey
Dwayne Dunning, his partner Laura Mason and their 12-week old son Harvey
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A young family caught up in the Passport Office chaos fear they might have to cancel a €2,000 holiday to Spain if they don't receive their child's passport in the next two weeks.

Dwayne Dunning, his partner Lorna and their 12-week old baby Harvey are due to fly to Tenerife on July 13.

The couple, who are living in Athenry, Co Galway, applied for Harvey's passport over seven weeks ago and it is yet to be processed.

Mr Dunning took the day off work last Friday to travel to the Passport Office on Mount Street in Dublin as he couldn't get through via phone or email.

Payment for their hotel in Tenerife is due at the end of this month and Mr Dunning says he is in two minds about transferring the money as they're not guaranteed Harvey's passport will be ready in time.

"My issue is that they received the application weeks ago and we went via the express postal route which the post office told us would be quickest.

"Nobody wanted to talk to me, they don't answer the phone, they don't answer emails, you can't connect with the live chat and that's what's driving me bananas. I had no option but to drive up there.

"Part of me is thinking of pulling out of the holiday as if I commit and pay the two grand and the passport doesn't come, we're screwed. We might have to cancel it altogether."

Mr Dunning said they applied soon after Harvey was born as they heard "horror stories about applications taking forever".

"It's a disgrace what's going on. It is meant to be our son's first holiday. The lady in the Passport Office said she couldn't give me any guarantees we'd have the passport on time."

The Department of Foreign Affairs today apologised for the delays being experienced by people applying for or renewing passports.

Secretary General at the DFA, Niall Burgess, described the issue as a "matter of immense frustration" before the Public Accounts Committee.

He accepted that the phone service was not up to an expected standard, explaining how the office had received nearly 10,000 queries in the past week alone.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy relayed stories of people who had to miss a family wedding due to the delays.

More than 100,000 passport applications have been processed so far this year.

While a large proportion were processed within 10 working days, around 50pc of applications made through the Passport Express postal service are not being completed within the 21-day target.

On its website the Passport Service advises all applicants to submit their applications at least six weeks before their intended date of travel.

Part of the reason for the current backlog has been attributed to Irish passport applications jumping by 25pc since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, according to the DFA.

The Passport Office recruits extra temporary staff to assist with seasonal increases and this year it took on 220 temporary clerical officers.

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