Monday, 22 February 2021
Ábhair Ghnó an tSeanaid – Matters on the Business of the Seanad
I wish to raise today the "pause", which is the word that is being used, in respect of the issuing of passports by the Passport Office. When our Covid-19 crisis is behind us, there will be a tremendous backlog of passports to be administered at that stage.The Passport Office is telling people on its website that when we get to level 4, they will have their passports and their information back in 20 days. That is unbelievable. Apart from wanting to leave the country, which is not recommended at present and we are certainly not encouraging it, many people use their passports every day of the week to open bank accounts, rent houses, get married and for many other reasons.
Driving licences can be renewed online, so I cannot see how, a year into the Covid crisis, the Passport Office could not have come up with some scheme to at least renew existing passports. This is a no-brainer. I know there are matters of State and different issues in regard to passports, but this is a basic right of any Irish person. It is just not good enough to say that passport services are being paused. To get anything from the Passport Office now requires that it be an extreme case. It is not good enough. I ask the Leader to liaise with the Minister, the Department and the Passport Office in this regard. This cannot continue. In a modern state in which a sister-type system exists for driving licences to be renewed online, it cannot be right that there is no such system for passports.