Senator Regina Doherty has called for the immediate resumption of vital public services, mainly the Passport Office and RSA Driving Tests, with the appropriate protective measures in place.
Speaking today, Senator Doherty, Leader of Seanad Éireann, said, “For Irish people, our Passport is probably the most important document we own, and it’s used for much more than going abroad.
“The Passport Service continues to provide an emergency and urgent service, and a service for work-related travel where evidence is provided, but the processing of routine applications is paused in Level 5 of the National Framework for Living with COVID-19. Passport Service staff have been temporarily reassigned to provide consular assistance for Irish citizens overseas.
“The Passport Service aims to restart the processing of most applications when the country moves to Level 4 or below on the reopening plan, however the pausing of routine passport applications and renewals for such a long period of time is deeply worrying and is causing a backlog.
“With a cautious easing of public health restrictions proposed, I think the processing of routine passports should be deemed what it is, an essential service, and resume as close to full operations as possible, as soon as possible, even if that means before we reach Level 4.
Speaking about the backlog in driving test applications, Senator Doherty said, “A similar situation is occurring with driving tests currently only available to essential workers. As a result of the three Level 5 periods, there are now significant waiting times for driving tests.
“This is having a huge impact on people paying for insurance, applying for jobs and much more. This too should be deemed an essential service and the RSA should be allowed to resume testing with all of the appropriate measures in place as soon as possible”, concluded Senator Doherty.