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Foreign Birth Registration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 9 September 2021

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Ceisteanna (413, 416, 421, 424, 430, 431, 432, 438, 439, 452, 460, 470)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

413. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the foreign births register will be reopened; the estimated backlog in applications; if he will consider reviewing the way the register is managed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41738/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

416. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of plans to resume foreign births registration in the coming period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41887/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

421. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the date for the resumption of processing of applications for Irish citizenship via the foreign birth register which has been paused for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41998/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McNamara

Ceist:

424. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive an application for the register of foreign births; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42052/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Flaherty

Ceist:

430. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when his Department will recommence the processing of foreign birth registrations (details supplied). [42157/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Flaherty

Ceist:

431. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of foreign birth applications awaiting processing; and if applicants are advised that it can take 12-18 months to process a completed application. [42158/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Flaherty

Ceist:

432. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of the workflow and the reason it can take 12 to 18 months to process a foreign birth registration application. [42159/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

438. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the processing of foreign birth registrations will recommence for new passport applications; the reason processing of foreign birth registrations continues to be paused; if his attention has been drawn to the frustration the closure of this service is having on parents who wish to apply for a foreign birth registration for their child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42270/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

439. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the application for the foreign births registration of a person (details supplied); the expected timeframe in which this application will be processed; if original documentation can be returned to the person given the lengthy wait; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42274/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

452. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the processing of foreign birth registration applications will recommence; if he will commit to assigning additional staff to the relevant Department section in view of the huge backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42592/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

460. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when a passport will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42728/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jennifer Whitmore

Ceist:

470. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he expects foreign birth registrations to resume; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42880/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 413, 416, 421, 424, 430, 431, 432, 438, 439, 452, 460 and 470 together.

My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (“the 1956 Act”), as amended. We take our legal responsibility in relation to Foreign Birth Registration very seriously and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for these applications stood at 18 months. This is due to the complex nature of Foreign Birth Registration applications and the very high volume of applications we received due to Brexit. At present, there are just over 31,000 applications in the Foreign Births Registration (FBR) system awaiting processing.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic FBR application processing was paused to give priority to the provision of other priority services. Notably, we reassigned staff to the HSE for essential contact tracing; to the Department of Social Protection for the processing of essential PUP payments, and to support the Department of Health with quarantine issues.

These emergency pandemic measures did not impact the provision of passports for essential reasons and we also continued to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, or where an applicant required the return of documents. As with many other areas of public service provision, a backlog of applications has inevitably grown due to the COVID 19 disruptions of our normal processes.

The Passport Service is very concerned about this backlog situation and are actively planning to resume processing FBR applications as soon as possible. We will be making a public announcement on specific dates in the coming weeks. My Department is committed to allocating further resources to this service to assist with the high volume of applications when regular processing resumes with a focus on reducing turnaround times to pre COVID-19 levels by the end of 2021. In the medium term, changes to the FBR process to increase efficiencies and improve the customer experience will be delivered under the next phase of my Department's Passport Reform Programme.

In cases of exceptional urgency applicants may continue to contact the Passport Service directly using email address: travelemergency@dfat.ie.

Question No. 414 answered with Question No. 409.
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