The Department of Foreign Affairs must get on top of passport applications to avoid disruption to travellers during the busy summer season, according to Fine Gael TD Michael Ring.
Deputy Ring said the Passport Service must ensure they deal with incorrect or incomplete applications promptly so that service users don’t encounter undue delays which may affect their travel plans.
“Last year there was a surge in demand for passports which led to significant delays in the processing of applications, particularly for citizens applying for the first time.
“I am now aware there appears to be an issue in the processing of first-time applications with images having to be sent back to the passport office, which is leading to inordinate delays for constituents that have contacted my office.
“The problem seems to be that unsuccessful applicants are being notified quite late in the process or near their estimated issue date that there is a problem with their application, and they may have to send additional documentation back to the passport office.
“They are then put back into the queue once again and are facing inordinate delays in having their application processed. My office has been inundated with requests for help and I know some of my colleagues have had similar representations.
“Everyone makes mistakes, but I am asking for fair play here from the Passport Service to ensure citizens are helped in every way they can be to ensure they have their travel documentation in a speedy and efficient manner.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Minister Martin must get on top of this now, we cannot have a repeat of the chaos last year where there were significant delays in passport turnaround times which impacted some people’s travel plans.
“Figures provided to me recently show the number of Passport Service staff has increased steadily over the last ten years, and stood at 751 last year.
“We have a population of 5 million, and they’re not all applying for passports at the same time, so surely the Passport Service can reach their target on turnaround times and ensure there are no backlogs.
“I would also urge people to check their passports are in date if they wish to make travel plans, particularly for long-haul flights,” Deputy Ring concluded.