Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has called the Government’s response to his call for a Belfast passport office inadequate and disappointing, and that it misses the point of opening an office.

Deputy Crowe said:

“In response to my call to open a passport office in Belfast, the Department of Foreign Affairs have stated that there is no need because most applications are done through the post, and that online renewals will be available next year.

“While I welcome that there is a Passport Reform Programme underway and that online renewals will hopefully start next year, this response is inadequate and misses the point.

“People still have emergencies and need to travel or get a passport at short notice. This is when a passport office is vital. A trip to the Dublin or Cork passport offices can take a whole day for someone in the North and it can be expensive.

“Such a trip can be extremely difficult for those without a car, those who have mobility issues, elderly people, people who have childcare commitments, or those with strict work commitments.

“A passport office in Belfast would address a real demand. It would mean that people would only need to take a few short hours out of their day to get their passport needs sorted.

“Location wise Belfast is also well serviced by public transport and road links from across the Six Counties and border counties.

“Additionally a lot of the recent applications are for first time applicants who may need additional assistance with filling out their forms. Over 80,000 passport applications are supposedly returned each year because they are incomplete.

“We know that a significant amount of people in our society have literacy problems or are not fully computer literate, so a passport office would again be of significant assistance to them.

“It’s clear that a passport office in Belfast makes practical and logistical sense, and I would again urge the Department of Foreign Affairs and Minister Flanagan to consider all these points and review their decision.”