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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Nearly fivefold increase in the number of complaints to the Passport Office this year

Complaints relate to the long delays as well as citizenship issues.

COMPLAINTS TO THE Passport Office have increased almost fivefold, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee has heard.

Nearly 800,000 passports have been processed so far this year, with 359 complaints made to the office, new figures obtained by Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy reveal. 

This compares to 2019, when there were 956,000 passports processed, with just 77 complaints made to the office. 

Of the complaints received this year, 90 have been escalated to the Ombudsman. 

Murphy said there is a “big difference” in the number of complaints between 2019 and this year. 

John Conlan, Chief Operating Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), acknowledged to the committee that there has been a “big jump” in complaints. 

“We would like our complaints to be much much lower and that’s how we want to strive to get back to the 2019 levels,” he said.

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.


Conlan said that due to the impact of Covid-19 and returning to how the offices normally operate has caused issues for the service.

“I accept our citizens got frustrated and more complaints have come in,” he said.

Complaints tend to fall into two categories – citizenship decisions – which he said require a lot of investigation and often result in a complaint, as well as complaints around timescale and the time in which it takes for a passport to be issued. 

The committee was told that a passport application is, in essence, an application for citizenship. Some of those can be quite complex and the Passport Office is not always able to issue the passport, with those complaints often escalated to the ombudsman. 

Recruitment of new staff is also a problem facing the service, with almost a third of those who were offered temporary clerical officer posts at the department turning down the offer.

Conlan said that while there have been four recruitment drives this year, there is an attrition rate of 30% for those offered positions.

Currently 846 staff are working in the Passport Office.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster expressed disappointment at the figures, stating that commitments were made for 920 people to be working in the service by the summer. 

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