Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (99)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

99. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is now a legal requirement for Irish citizens to have a public services card to renew a passport; if so, the relevant primary or secondary legislation in which this requirement is stated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20814/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Since 29 March 2016, the Passport Service has required all first time passport applicants, aged 18 and above, who are resident in Ireland to hold a valid Public Services card. This requirement also applies to the small number of adult passport applicants, whose passport was issued before 1 January 2005 and has been reported as lost, stolen or damaged and those whose passport expired more than five years ago. If an applicant falls into one of the above mentioned categories of applicant, then their application must include a copy of their PSC.

The Government agreed on 17 July 2017 to extend the requirement for a PSC to all adults in the State accessing a wide range of public services in Ireland, and this includes citizens applying for passports. The Department is a member of a joint working group, with other relevant Departments, which is examining the business process, technical and resource implications on how this requirement can best be met and the schedule for its adoption. There are no plans at present to extend PSC requirements for accessing services, including in relation to passport applications, to Irish citizens not resident in the State.

A key principle behind the concept of the PSC is that the delivery of services is more efficient when a person’s identity does not have to be authenticated at every transaction. With specific reference to the issuance of passports, the introduction of the PSC requirement has allowed the Passport Service to dispense with requirements for certain additional documentation and reduces the overall volume of documentation that Irish citizens must submit when applying for a passport and is the most secure form of identity available to adult passport applicants resident in the State. The PSC requirement is now a key resource in the Passport Service’s efforts to combat fraud and identity theft and uphold the integrity of the Irish passport.

With reference to the legal basis for the Minister to request a copy of an applicant’s PSC, the Passports Act 2008 (as amended) provides for the issue by the Minister of passports to Irish citizens. Section 7(1)(b) of the Passports Act 2008 requires that the Minister be satisfied as to an individual’s identity before issuing a passport to that person. Section 7(2) provides as follows: “The Minister may require an applicant for a passport to provide such information as the Minister may require for the purposes of the application and to produce to him or her such documents as he or she considers necessary or expedient to enable him or her to perform the functions of the Minister under this Part.” It is on this basis that the Minister requires applicants to produce identity documentation.