Almost 60,000 children's passport applications remain outstanding, says Dept of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that there had been over 500,000 passports issued in 2022 so far.

THERE ARE OVER 58,000 outstanding passport applications for children under the age of 13 according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

New figures released by the Department show that there are 58,400 outstanding passport applications for children aged under 13, with ongoing delays being caused by record levels of people seeking passports.

First-time passports are currently taking over a month to be processed, which the Department of Foreign Affairs says is significantly faster than waiting times earlier this year.

The data was released as a response to a Parliamentary Question by Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.

“As of 23 May 2022, there were 58,400 online passport applications in the Passport Service system for children aged thirteen and under,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney in response.

According to Coveney, there have been over 500,000 passports issued so far in 2022, compared to 634,000 issued across the whole of 2021.

Coveney said that “99% of all child and adult online renewal applications are issued within the standard turnaround time”, however first-time passport applications are for children and adults are taking longer due to the amount of work required before a passport can be approved.

He said that processing times are down compared to earlier this year, and he expects them to fall again early next month.

“Since March, processing times for first time applications have already been reduced by 25% and applications now take 30 working days rather than 40 days,” said Coveney.

“From Monday 6 June, it is hoped that, based on current trends, this processing time will decrease yet again to 25 working days for first time applications.”

Speaking to The Journal, Ó Murchú said that he understands that work needs to be completed before applications can be approved, but that short term fixes around other issues need to be solved.

“We all know that there has to be due diligence, particularly around first time child passports,” said Ó Murchú.

However, he said that there had been issues after children get their parental consent forms signed and witnessed by Gardaí, particularly regarding part-time Garda stations.

He said if the Passport Office is unable to reach the Garda station they are only authorised to call between two and three times before the process must be restarted.

Ó Murchú said that a new electronic system was needed to record Garda witnesses, to ensure that information is not available to the Passport Office.

There is currently a major recruitment drive ongoing within the Passport Office, with staffing numbers set to be brought over 900, double that of June 2021.

Late last week there were calls by some TDs for public service staff to be redeployed to work in the Passport Office, with Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin saying that while a recruitment campaign was welcome, more staff were needed immediately.

“I know the Minister prioritised this and staff are currently being recruited but we need to consider an immediate temporary redeployment of staff,” said Devlin.

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