CARELESS Irish travellers have lost more than 13,000 passports so far this year.
Despite serious concerns over the recent cases of identity thefts using Irish passports, Interpol are still issuing alerts about lost and stolen passports at a rate of around 30 per day.
Since the start of 2010, Irish people have "lost or mislaid" 13,328 passports, while another 2,188 have been reported as stolen.
The figures come after months of controversy over how forged Irish passports came to be used in the Dubai assassination of a Hamas official and over allegations that a Russian spy was living in the US using Irish documents.
In some cases, the passports contained the details of real Irish citizens.
The situation has been cited as a real concern by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which moved to expel an Israeli diplomat from the country following an investigation into the Dubai killing.
Commenting on the missing passports, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said the percentage of Irish documents lost and stolen is "in line with other countries, including the United Kingdom".
He noted: "Individual citizens are primarily responsible for the safekeeping of their own passports.
"In this regard the department is constantly urging that passports should always be kept in a secure place and that citizens take particular care of the document when travelling."
Last year, a total of 34,622 passports were lost or stolen. This represents almost 6pc of the 579,508 that were issued.
Figures so far this year suggest the number of cases recorded will be around the same.
Once a passport is reported lost, this information is relayed to Interpol through the gardai.
The information is then made available immediately to police forces and border control officers worldwide.
"The department strongly advises that citizens notify the Passport Service of any lost passport at the earliest opportunity," said Mr Martin.
If that happens any individual who attempts to travel on a lost or stolen passport runs a massive risk of being stopped at border control points.