The “insufficient response to the ongoing crisis at the passport office” which has seen chaos for applicants right across the state, has been criticised by Louth TD Imelda Munster.
Deputy Munster raised the issue with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in the Dáil, calling on the government to take urgent action.
“My office has been inundated in the last few months with passport queries. It’s the number one issue in my office at the moment. People are extremely frustrated to be in a position where they applied for passports in plenty of time ahead of planned travel, and the passport office delays are causing them to miss their holidays.
“People are enduring weeks of worry, which is compounded by poor communication from the passport office. Since I last raised this issue, nothing seems to have changed. There has been no improvement.”
“We still have a situation where it seems documentation is not being checked until the target issue date of the passport. This means that people are put to the back of the queue when additional documentation is needed and is causing major delays.”
“The surge in demand for passports after two years of travel restrictions was entirely foreseeable, and the slow progress the government is making in addressing the problem simply isn’t good enough.”
“It’s not fair on people who have applied in plenty of time. Many families have been saving up and looking forward to their first foreign holiday in three years and it’s very poor form that people are being forced to cancel at the 11th hour because passports didn’t arrive on time.”
“I’ve asked the government to prioritise this, as we’re in peak summer season now and enough is enough.”
Minister O’Brien told the Louth TD that there is “no question but that there have been issues in the Passport Service.”
He added: “I have experienced that myself through contacts I have received from my own constituents. There have been improvements in recent weeks, as I think the Deputy will recognise. One of the particular issues relates to first-time passport applications where errors may have been made and not picked up soon enough. Families are only receiving the news that there are errors weeks afterwards. The Deputy has raised a very valid point.
"To be fair to the Minister, Deputy Coveney, I know the service's resources have been increased. Approximately 5,000 passports are being issued per week, which is a significant level. However, this is a time when people want to get away on holidays if they can. We need to make sure the Passport Service can respond to the increase in applications. That is what we intend to do. In fairness, on the issue of first-time passports for children, I recognise that people are still having issues. We are determined to get to grips with the issue.”