Staff should be moved from other departments to the passport office to deal with an emergency caused by people urgently requiring passports now that foreign travel has reopened, the Dáil has heard.
The issue was raised in the Dáil today, Thursday, by Deputy Michael Ring who asked for information on the number of staff working in the Passport Office on a monthly basis from January 2020 to 31 August 2021.
Due to the demand during the summer months, 100,000 passports were issued per month.
Deputy Ring asked Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney - "will he take staff from other Departments and put them into the Passport Office to try to deal with the emergency?"
"Is it not time that the Department considered putting a passport office in the west? If there is a problem, it is not fair that someone from Galway, Mayo or Belmullet has to go to Dublin to resolve it. Although many passports are being processed online, there are still many that are not," Deputy Ring said.
"I know that people are frustrated because, in the absence of international travel for nearly 18 months, many are now checking and realising that their passports are out of date, but they want to plan their holidays," Minister Coveney said.
"We understand what is contributing to the dramatic increase in demand, which will continue right the way through next year.
"We are taking on more people, but access to more people has not been the primary problem. The challenge has been in being able to get people into the office safely and expanding the physical footprint of a secure passport office that I can stand over in terms of its security operation. Both of these matters are being addressed," Minister Coveney said.
He said he could not give an answer on whether an office in the west will be opened.
"We want to get our existing office infrastructure open. We have to open in Cork and we have only just opened the office in Dublin for emergency passport delivery," Minister Coveney said.
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