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Passport Service 'closing down avenues' of fraud with over 300 passports revoked since 2016

The Passport Service has invested “substantial resources” in tackling fraud since 2017.

Image: Mark G E/Shutterstock

THERE HAVE BEEN over 300 Irish passports revoked due to fraud since 2016, new figures have revealed.

The number of frauds detected have risen each year for the past three years, with 130 cases identified last year. 

The cases of fraud are quite small when compared to over 800,000 passports issued each year but the Department of Foreign Affairs said that its detection of cases of fraud has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in technology.

In a parliamentary question, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked for the number of cases where passports had been revoked or voided due to being obtained by fraud or deception in the past 10 years.

Minister Simon Coveney said in reply that there are a lack of records before 2016, but detailed the number of passports voided in recent years.

In 2016, there were 76 passports revoked. In 2017, that number was 82 and rose to 130 in 2018. 

Figures for this year up to 30 June show that 46 passports were voided.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs outlined how the Passport Service has tackled fraud in recent years.

“Since 2017 substantial resources have been invested in the Integrity Section of the Passport Service,” the spokesperson said. “This section has also had a significant increase in staff numbers and new and improved systems have been put in place.

A large investment in technology and structures has helped to improve our detection rates and our recording of instances of fraud. These resources coupled with new procedures and protocols implemented by the Passport Service have significantly prevented fraud applications from circumventing our systems thereby closing down avenues of access previously used by the fraudulent applicant.

The spokesperson said that for “policy and security reasons” it would be inappropriate to comment on “specific investigative tradecraft matters”. 

However, “in broader terms”, the department said that “considerable time and resources” have gone into the development of the passport book and card that is recognised internationally.

So far this year – to 30 June – 567,141 applications for an Irish passport have been received. Just under 50,000 of them have come from Northern Ireland with another 36,274 applicants from Great Britain. 

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Sean Murray

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