Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Questions (430, 431, 434, 435, 440)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

430. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the rationale behind the closure of the Passport Office; if the staff have been redeployed elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12678/21]

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John Lahart

Question:

431. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason for the level 5 pause in respect of the issuing of passports by the Passport Office; his plans to deal with the impending delays for passport issuing given that persons need their passports on a daily basis for identification purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12685/21]

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John Paul Phelan

Question:

434. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he expects the online passport application and renewal process to be back up and running (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12808/21]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

435. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the passport renewal services will resume; if plans are in place to deal with the backlog of applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12824/21]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

440. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the procedure in place for persons who require a new passport that is not a renewal to receive same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13060/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 430, 431, 434, 435 and 440 together.

The Passport Service has paused the processing of routine applications while Ireland is at 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 continues to provide an emergency and urgent service. The emergency service is available for those who are required to travel due to the death or serious illness of a family member or because the applicant requires emergency medical treatment. The urgent service also assists citizens who are resident abroad who require a valid passport for visa purposes or citizens who require a renewal for work purposes.

The Passport Service continues to process all renewals for work-related travel where evidence is provided. Where it is a first time application, the application will be assessed where the applicant has no other citizenship. Adult first time applications require a very high level of verification to protect the integrity of the Irish passport.

Applicants who require a passport for emergency purposes, or to travel for urgent reasons, should contact the Passport Service via our Customer Service Hub Webchat function on our website.

Irish citizens who are resident overseas should make contact through the local Irish Embassy or Consulate General, or WebChat.

The Passport Service has a comprehensive plan in place to resume all services, in line with the National Framework for Living with COVID-19. When operations resume at Level 4, all applications received via Passport Online will be processed. The Passport Service is confident, taking into account measures to ensure a safe workplace, that any Passport Online backlog can be cleared in six to eight weeks.

The Passport Service plans to resume processing of routine paper based applications such as Passport Express, Northern Ireland Passport Express and applications for Foreign Birth Registrations at Level 3 of the framework.