Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen is to seek an update from Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan on the rollout of the Passport Reform Programme after it emerged that Offaly people are experiencing significant delays when attempting to renew their passports.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after it was revealed that the demand for Irish passports has soared in the wake of Brexit.
Deputy Cowen said, “I have been contacted by number of people in recent days who have told me that they are experiencing significant delays when attempting to apply for a new passport or to renew an old one. Some people have been told that they will have to wait at least five weeks before they can secure an appointment at the Passport Office in Dublin. This means that their passport renewal is likely to take up to 10 weeks to complete, which is simply an unacceptable delay.
“Minister Flanagan appears to have been completely unprepared for the surge in demand for Irish passports in the wake of Brexit. This is surprising when you consider it was forecast over 12 months ago that demand would increase dramatically should Britain take the decision to leave the European Union. However Minister Flanagan has only come forward with proposals to reform the passport application and renewal process earlier this month.
“The Passport Reform Programme is seemingly having little impact on the ground at the moment as people are still experiencing huge delays in accessing Passport Office services. Minister Flanagan has indicated that temporary staff are being taken on to help resolve the problem, but we need to know the exact timeline for this and whether even more resources will need to be allocated. The Minister should also examine proposals to setup a separate application stream for UK residents. This will help ensure that passport renewals from within Ireland are dealt with promptly,” concluded Deputy Cowen.