asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, he is taking to alleviate the problems in arranging passports for children, often in their teens, who are in long term foster placements.
Written Answers. - Foster Children's Passports.
The courts here have determined that passport facilities may only be granted to children under 18 with the consent of the child's natural parents or legal guardians. As the Deputy will be aware in the absence of alternate arrangements under the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964, the natural parents of a foster child retain guardianship of the child. Thus in the case of passport applications for foster children the Passport Office is obliged to seek the written witnessed consent of both parents before issuing a passport.
If one or both natural parents cannot be contacted or if their whereabouts are unknown, the Passport Office endeavours to deal as sympathetically as possible with the application. In these circumstances the office asks for a sworn affidavit from the responsible social worker regarding the whereabouts of the natural parents and indicating, if appropriate, that the relevant health board has no objection to the issue of passport facilities.
The passport issued in such circumstances is strictly limited in time and relates to a specific journey.