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Foreign Birth Registration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 19 October 2021

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Ceisteanna (491, 496, 497, 507, 518, 519)

Colm Burke

Ceist:

491. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the foreign birth registration service will begin processing applications again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50420/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

496. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether it is appropriate that there is an effective pause on the processing of all foreign birth registration applications for persons who wish to apply for such registration and associated passports; the steps he is taking to immediately begin clearing the growing backlog exacerbated by Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50510/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

497. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of applications awaiting processing under the foreign birth registration process; the current average processing time per application; the number of applications processed in each month to date in 2021; his views on whether the current processing arrangements are fit for purpose, equitable or fair for applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50511/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

507. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the foreign births register will reopen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50957/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

518. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether it is appropriate that there is an effective pause on the processing of all foreign birth registration applications for individuals who wish to apply for such registration and associated passports; the steps he is taking to immediately begin clearing the growing backlog mitigated by Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51280/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

519. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of applications awaiting processing under the foreign birth registration process; the current average processing time per application; the number of applications processed each month in 2021; his views on whether the current processing arrangements are fit for purpose, equitable or fair for applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51281/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 491, 496, 497, 507, 518 and 519 together.

My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for FBR applications stood at 18 months due to an unprecedented surge in applications as a result of Brexit, and the necessary rigorous processing that applies to citizenship applications. 

Due to the pandemic, FBR staff have been reassigned to assist in the delivery of essential services. This has resulted in a pause in overall FBR processing. There are approximately 31,000 FBR applications currently on-hand. FBR staff have continued to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Over 5,000 emergency FBR applications have been processed so far in 2021. In cases of exceptional urgency FBR applicants may continue to contact the Passport Service directly. For other applications, the Department operates a transparent general policy of processing FBR applications in order of receipt.

I include a table outlining the number of FBR applications processed by the Passport Service on a monthly basis in 2021. The high volume of applications finalised during May, June and July reflects FBR applications which were processed in early 2020 and were paused due to the reassignment of staff during the pandemic. These applications were finalised, printed and issued to applicants over the summer of this year. 

The Passport Service is actively planning to resume processing FBR applications as soon as possible and I will arrange to have the Deputies informed once a date for the resumption of processing these applications has been finalised. My Department is committed to allocating further resources to assist with the high volume of applications, with a focus on reducing turnaround times 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.

FBR Applications Processed 2021

Month 2021

Applications Processed

January

25

February

22

March

107

April

135

May

681

June

1532

July

1127

August

570

September

589

October (to date)

226

Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 490.
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