Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, has called upon Minister Simon Coveney to put in place the supports needed to address the demand for passports, in this the peak period for applications.
Speaking following a meeting with the head of the Passport Service in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Wicklow TD said:
“I am calling upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, as the individual who bears the ultimate responsibility for his department, to allocate sufficient staff members to address the backlog of passport applications which are currently outstanding.
“I have met with the head of the Passport Service in the department of Foreign Affairs, and there can be no doubt as to the effort that the staff and management are putting in to deal with both the backlog accrued over Covid, and the deluge of applications coming forward at this time, which is the peak period for passport applications.
“Staff are working long hours, and in some cases, on Saturdays and Sundays to attempt to deal with a growing workload.
“But the reality is that, during normal times there is a core staff of approx. 450 in the passport section, which is increased during the peak period by a total of approx. 200, bringing the total to 650.
“But at present staff numbers are significantly reduced, with only about 500 personnel in total being left to deal with demands. That’s 150 staff less than this time last year, despite the massive backlog of passport applications and increased demand for them.
“This is compounded by the need to keep staff safe, and socially distanced during Covid, which means that the offices can only cater for 50% staff, with additional off site office space required for the remainder.
“To put this is context, so far this year, in 2021 alone, the Passport Service has issued 375,000 passports.
“Based on figures revealed to me this week, there are currently 112,000 applications with the Passport Service. 50,000 of these applications require additional documentation, and a further 62,000 applications are sitting with the Passport Service.
“I am calling upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure that there are sufficient staff on hand to deal with demand at this time. The responsibility lies with Minister Coveney, and he must act accordingly.”