7,000 passports were printed on three days this week as staff work “flat out” to deal with demand, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has confirmed.
Because of international travel restrictions the number of people renewing their passport plummeted in 2020 and 2021. However, with people now able to travel again, there has been a huge surge in people applying for passports and many people have encountered long delays waiting for the document to arrive.
“Across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week we printed and issued 21,000 passports, an average of 7,000 per day responding to unprecedented demand,” Minister Coveney tweeted.
“Staff working flat out to deliver for the public. Quickest way to get a passport is online.”
First time applicants have been particularly badly affected and many parents are waiting months to get passports for their babies.
“My daughter is one and a half and she hasn’t met her grandmother who is quite ill,” Newstalk listener, Áine, told Lunchtime Live in February.
“So we’ve tried a number of times, we’ve booked a number of trips and had to cancel them because we haven’t received the passport.
“I suppose more pointedly is that we can’t get in contact with the Passport Office – which is the most frustrating thing about it!
“And I think a lot of people have found that as well.
“So we originally submitted an application in August and we got a date of November, that we would receive the passport in mid-November and so we had booked to go away in late November so she could meet her grandmother and that date came in mid-November and we had no passport.
“Then we booked again for Christmas time, which is a month and a half later, we thought we’d have it and no passport unfortunately.
“And I suppose now, time is of the essence in this situation and we can’t get in contact to see whether it’s going to come this year, next year, next month!”
The Passport Office is seen on Dublin’s Molesworth Street in July 2011. Picture by: kp / Alamy Stock Photo
Minister of State for Passports
Yesterday Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway said the issue is so pressing that a full time Minister of State to deal wit it:
“Unfortunately, there’s a major problem now with passports in this country,” Senator Conway told The Hard Shoulder.
“And I do think it requires somebody who can just roll up their sleeves, go in and focus 100% of their time until the problem is resolved.”
However, his boss, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, was not enthused by the idea:
“Suggestions are always welcome,” An Tánaiste said.
“But I’m not sure another junior minister would solve that particular problem but it is a real problem I have to say.
“I’m a Dublin TD, we wouldn’t usually get many constituents ringing us about passport issues and I’d say maybe 30, 40% of the cases coming through my office now are passport queries.”
Main image: An Irish passport.