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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
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Passport Office

Family miss out on meeting the Pope due to passport delays

The Taoiseach said it must be very distressing for the mother and her four children who did not make their flight today.

A WOMAN AND her four children have missed out on an audience with the Pope at this year’s World Meeting of Families in Rome as they were unable to travel due to delays in getting passports, the Dáil has heard.

Criticism has been levelled at the Passport Office in recent weeks as people wait weeks and even months to get a passport. First-time passports in particular 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.

Fianna Fáil’s Jennifer Murnane O’Connor told the Taoiseach today that her friend Helen applied for her passport on 8 April, as she did for her four children.

“The passports for her four children came back on 31 May with a request for further information from her, which she sent in. The flights were scheduled for 21 June.

Missed flight 

“This is nearly ten weeks ago and I requested this matter be treated as urgent. Last week, she came to me saying she was so disappointed because this passport was urgent as this family was picked from the Kildare and Leighlin diocese for an audience with the Pope during the World Meeting of Families 2022. This is a family that is representing Ireland,” she said. 

The TD said she did everything she could to get the passport sorted, stated that she even contacted the Taoiseach’s office as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.

“I contacted everywhere and she did not fly out today. It is unacceptable that this lady and her four children – it is such a privilege to have an audience with the Pope – did not get her passport.

“As I said, it has been going for nearly ten weeks. It is unacceptable,” she said. 

The Ceann Comhairle told the Taoiseach that he would need “a little infallibility to solve that problem”, to which Micheál Martin said: “Or maybe divine intervention.”

He added:

“In a more serious vein, it is very distressing for the family, to be fair. Normally, passport applications for children tend to be the difficulty and not those for the mother.”

He committed to raised the case with the department, stating that it is very distressing for the mother and the family who were selected to go to Rome to have an audience with the Pope.

“It meant a lot to that family. I cannot understand how that happened, especially if the children’s passports were all sorted because that is normally the area where there seems to be the greatest delay,” he said. 

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