Written Answers. - Regional Passport Issuing Offices.

Peter Barry

Question:

95 Mr. Barry asked the asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the proposals, if any, he has to open passport issuing offices in regional centres such as Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Tralee, Sligo, Kilkenny and Wexford in view of the success of the passport issuing office in Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [

The new "Passport Express" service, available since last March, enables passports to be provided quickly and conveniently through over 500 post offices throughout the country. This localised service is being extended as the number of participating post offices increases. During the busy summer months of 1995 over half of applicants used "Passport Express" and the proportion is expected to increase as the service becomes more widely available.

The introduction of "Passport Express" has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of personal callers to the passport offices in Cork and Dublin. This has allowed staff to be transferred from counter duties to dealing with postal applications. Consequently, more than three-quarters of all correct applications received are now being processed within two weeks and, for personal callers with genuinely urgent applications, queuing and delays have been reduced. Since last September the passport office in Cork is a fully-fledged issuing office for the Munster region.

I believe that with "Passport Express" the passport offices in Cork and Dublin will be able to ensure a continued high quality of service to the public for the foreseeable future. The opening of further regional passport offices is not, therefore, envisaged at present.