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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Passport Office 'upscaling' to respond to massive increase in demand, says Coveney

Last month, 170,000 passports went out successfully, said Minister Simon Coveney.

THERE HAS BEEN a massive increase in demand for passports, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney acknowledged today. 

The issue of ongoing delays with members of the public getting their passports was raised with the minister in the Dáil today. 

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said politicians, including himself, have been inundated with calls from people who have been waiting extended periods for their passport.

He said some have missed their flights and still do not have passports.

“I know the minister is under pressure about this service but we have to do better than we are at present,” he said. 

Coveney told the Dáil that the Passport Office is currently delivering 5,000 passports a day to people in Ireland.

Last month, 170,000 passports went out successfully, he added.

The minister told the Dáil that this year, about 1.4 million passports will be processed,  the highest figure in any other year, which previously stood at 900,000.

“We are talking about passport demand increasing by approximately 50% in a year. This summer, we will have 900 people in the passport office. Last summer, it was 460,” he said.

“This year, we have a special phone line for Oireachtas offices. It has been under pressure, and we are adding more people to it today. It has taken well over 10,000 calls so far this year, however.

“Obviously, we are also looking to put more people on the public call line and the webchat service.

“We are upscaling by putting far more people in to respond to a massive increase in demand, but we also rely on the public to make sure the applications are online and accurate, where possible.”

The problems are nearly always linked to first-time applicants, said the minister. Of all renewals, 43% are given back within 48 hours, he said, adding:

“It is important to focus on the positives as well as the negatives.’

His comments come as Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said she has called on An Post and Minister Coveney to change the name of its Passport Express service for customers.

She said the description of the service as an express service is “outdated and misleading” as it is now quicker to renew passport documents online.

A debate on the delays in the Passport Office is due to be held in the Dáil on Thursday. 

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