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Delay in issuing passports ‘causing huge difficulties’ says local TD

Local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has said delays in the issuing of passports is causing huge upset and difficulties to many intending to travel abroad.

According to Deputy Stanley, some of his constituents had to cancel their trips due to their passports not being ready on time.

He said: “Both myself and my colleagues in Sinn Féin have been making representations to Minister Simon Coveney about this important matter.

“In reply to a Parliamentary Question I put to the Minister, he outlined in detail the steps the Department of Foreign Affairs are taking in solving this problem.”

The Minister states: “A major recruitment drive has been underway over the past several months, which has seen the number of Passport Service staff increase by over 300 since June 2021.

“The Passport Service is currently running its own recruitment competition for Temporary Clerical Officers. This recruitment effort will bring staffing numbers to over 900, which represents a doubling of staff compared to June 2021.

“A Passport Service communications campaign was deployed at the start of the year with the objective of informing the public about the passport application process and to encourage citizens to go online for applications and renewals.

“This campaign ran over print, broadcast and digital mediums. It included advertisements in national and local radio, as well as advertisements in national press, during a two week period in January. Further activity is planned for the second half of the year across digital, social media, print and radio.

“Intensive training of new staff and upskilling of existing staff is underway to increase the resources that can process complex applications, such as first time child applications.”

The Minister outlined that the vast majority of applications are processed within the turnaround times outlined below:

– 10 working days for Simple Adult online renewals.

– 15 working days for Complex or child online renewals. In the case of first time passport applications for children, the consent of guardians must also be thoroughly validated.

– 30 working days for First Time Applications on Passport Online (applications received from 19 April)

– 8 weeks for An Post’s mail-in “Passport Express” service.

Deputy Stanley concluded: “While these measures are welcome delays persist and the time for processing often goes well beyond these timelines.

“I am also advising applicants that for applications that require a Garda witness, that they go to a 24 HR Garda Station such as Portlaoise or Tullamore. The passport office have to verify these.

“I have met with constituents in my office over the past few months and even though they have all the correct documents submitted, they were told that were still in a queue and keep watching the tracking of their application online. Some people had to cancel their holidays.

“We intend to continue applying pressure on the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring further improvements to the service.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.