Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has expressed his deep concern at the failure of the government to put in place provisions to address the backlog of over 112,000 passport applications currently outstanding.

Teachta Crowe said:

“The backlog in processing passport applications is down to the failure of the government to put in place sufficient supports for the passport service during this the busiest time of the year. There can be no doubt as to the effort that the staff and management in the passport service are putting in to deal with both the backlog accrued over Covid, and the deluge of applications coming forward at this point, which is the peak period for passport applications.

“So far in 2021, the Passport Service has received almost 400,000 passport applications. There are currently over 112,000 applications still outstanding with the Passport Office. In Dublin, there are over 15,000 applications waiting to be processed.

“My office has been inundated with pleas for help as delivery dates are given and then missed by weeks or even months, meaning families are unable to travel on holidays that they have booked well in advance. This has also impacted several people who have to travel for medical reasons with no priority being attached to their need by the Passport Office.

“There is a core staff of around 450 workers in the Passport Office and this is usually increased by 200 or so during the busy time in the summer to bring the number over 650. The Government has failed to do the same this year and there are only around 500 staff currently working on processing passports. This is despite the very predictable rush for passports considering people have not been able to travel for a year and many would have seen their passports lapse and been unable to renew them while the passport service was closed during a good deal of the lockdown.

“The physical Passport Office itself remains closed and I have been unable to get a straight answer from the Minister of when he intends to reopen it despite several attempts. The Office itself is a vital resource for people who may not have the necessary skills to renew online or require additional assistance to get through a language barrier or more complex applications such as those for new citizens.

“I am calling on the Government and on Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in particular to ensure that there are sufficient staff on hand to deal with demand at this time and not have people waiting weeks and months longer than they have been told when they apply.”