I propose to take Questions Nos. 235, 247, 278 and 279 together.
My Department became aware in September 2018 of customers experiencing difficulties booking registration appointments. Some of these difficulties had arisen because third party agents had been able to secure multiple appointments through the use of automatic software.
A set of software fixes was introduced in mid-September 2018 to prevent this abuse of the system. As far as can be determined, this software update has been successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents. The system is being regularly monitored in this regard.
However, I am aware that some third party agents continue to book individual appointments with information supplied to them by customers. My Department strongly advises our customers not to provide sensitive personal data to these unregulated agents. Matters pertaining to Garda investigations are a matter for the Garda Commissioner.
My Department will shortly be tendering for a replacement online appointments system, which is being designed to prevent the block-booking of appointments. This new system will also assist in streamlining and improving the current online booking process. As part of the Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 for Immigration Service Delivery, a number of other options are also being considered with a view to improving customer service and efficiency as well as meeting the growing demand for registration in Ireland.
In the past year, there has been an increased demand for appointments. The Registration Office in Burgh Quay is currently registering more than 500 people every day and is opening every weekend in an effort to meet that demand.