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Backlog of passport applications will be cleared once level 5 restrictions are eased; clearance of 92,000 applications are pending

DUBLIN: The Passport Office has stated that the delay in issuing passports is due to the current Level 5 restrictions, and that it will be processed within six to eight weeks once the restrictions are eased.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Heydon said that there is a backlog of 92,000 applications in the passport system and that majority of these applications received in the last three months.

Minister Heydon said that two-thirds of the applications were for renewals. According to him, during the current restrictions, Passport Office officials issued a total of 40,000 passports. He explained that the applications were processed with a variety of factors in view, including the need for travel in emergency situations such as death or serious illness, as well as people living overseas who required their passports for visa or job purposes.

Mr. Heydon said the delay was due to the involvement of Passport Office officials in assisting HSE in contact tracing and the Department of Social Protection with COVID benefits. He was responding to two government backbenchers who expressed concern about the difficulties faced by people who use passports for identification purposes.

However, the Minister has made it clear that the Passport Office intends to clear the backlog as soon as possible.

TD’s responding to backlog of applications

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said the Passport Office had been closed for four months. He noted that a passport is an essential part of identification in this country, not just for travel purposes. Mr. Richmond added that a passport is not something that should be “afforded to” people, and that it’s their right.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill agrees that people in genuine life-or-death situations were being helped. However, there were those who needed passports to open a bank account or accept a college application, and they did not receive any assistance, she added. Ms. MacNeill also inquired about the contingency plan for dealing with the backlog. She recommended that more working hours or extra days be included.

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