Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Sarah Slater

A travel chief has described the Irish passport application backlog as “disgraceful”, calling for essential offices to be reopened.

Pat Dawson, head of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said they are frustrated at delays in issuing passports, meaning some consumers have had to cancel their travel plans.

Mr Dawson called for the passport offices in Dublin and Cork to be reopened as they remain shut to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Though the backlog has dropped in recent weeks from 112,000, more than 90,000 of the documents are still outstanding.

Mr Dawson said many members of the public have been hit hard by the delays.

“(The backlog) is a disgraceful carry on as far as we are concerned. We’ve had numerous people on – we’ve had very sad cases where somebody’s passed away in another country and a sister or a brother hadn’t got a passport and all that kind of really serious family issues, never mind holidays or business travel.

Essential service

“The big question is why aren’t the passport offices in both Dublin and Cork opened? They are an essential service and essential offices have been open now for months,” Mr Dawson told radio station KCLRfm.

He added: “There are many people who have booked holidays for September and October, they have sent in passports and their new passports seemingly can be actioned very quickly we’re told.

“But it’s very hard to believe, I mean the Tánaiste said that 120,000 passports can be done in a week – well how come there’s a backlog of over 90,000 at the moment?”

Mr Dawson called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to explain what is happening with the issuing of passports.

“I want to see the passport offices both in Dublin and Cork reopen again and I want to see civil servants deployed on calls and on helplines in order to alleviate this mess which has been created by the Government.

“This needs to be done urgently and not in three or four weeks time.”

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