As outlined in responses to previous parliamentary questions, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department became aware in September 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 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.
The period September to November is the busiest time for registrations with many student registrations in addition to the usual workload of the office. A number of measures have been taken to increase the capacity of the office, including the assignment of additional staff to the Registration Office, overtime and opening the office for registrations on most Saturdays and some Sundays. These measures are aimed at ensuring that as many appointments as possible are made available each day. INIS is continuing these measures at least until December to ensure demand is met.
I also wish to inform the Deputy that INIS is currently developing a new online appointments system which should be operational late next year. This new system will assist in streamlining and improving the current online booking process. However there will still be a necessity for customers who are registering for the first time to attend the Registration Office as first time registration requires the capture of biometric information.