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At last the Government realises our good name -- and lives -- are at risk

Two neighbouring islands: different planets.

In London when they hear their passports have been used for some Mossad dirty work, they call in the Israeli ambassador straight away.

In Ireland our first reaction was to put the Gardai to investigate the case.

It is good news that the Department of Foreign Affairs reconsidered and is to make a formal protest.

Because all of us who travel on an Irish passport have our reputations on the line on this one.

The Irish passport is a rare document, one that guarantees its holder a welcome round the planet.

We don't invade other countries. We don't have a history of sordid deals, like many of the bigger EU countries. That's why people like us. It is also why we are a favourite passport for use in other people's dirty work.

Oliver North is one of the more famous unwelcome temporary Irish citizens. He and his colleagues used Irish passport for their Iran Contra mission.

Mossad is not alone in using Irish passports. No doubt they have done so before, as Israel knows a lot about Ireland and its reputation. Their air force painted their planes in Aer Lingus colours before engaging in a bombing raid on Iran in June 1983.

In each of these cases our reputation was taken.

Our response was a shrug of the shoulders. A sort of "what can you expect" when it comes to foreign intelligence agencies.

Mossad have taken the scam a bit further now. The passports had real numbers of documents belonging to real Irish citizens.

Most identity theft damages your bank account. This one puts lives in danger.

Any of our passport numbers, our real passports, could have been used by Mossad in this or several other situations.

We want to be able to travel safely and be greeted with the welcome our unblemished reputation on foreign affairs matters has accorded it. What happened in that Dubai hotel room endangers us all.