Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
416. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of passport applications received by the passport office on a monthly basis from January 2020 to August 2021, in tabular form; if the applications were online, through the post or through an embassy and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46560/21]
The number of passport applications received by the passport office on a monthly basis from January 2020 to August 2021, is set out in tabular form below.
|2020||Applications from Overseas Mission||Online Applications||Paper Applications||Total Monthly Applications|
Since 2016, there has been an ongoing process of reform within the Passport Service, that has delivered a number of high profile and successful improvements for citizens at home and abroad who rely on this service. This includes the facility for online applications.
In 2019, online applications accounted for 47% of all applications received.The Online Service was enhanced at the end of 2019 to facilitate first time applicants, both children and adults, in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Europe. This has been further expanded this year to facilitate first time applicants in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. All Irish citizens, including children, can use the online system to renew their passports from anywhere in the world.
417. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of completed passports that were physically collected by applicants or by persons on behalf of the applicant at the passport office on a monthly basis from February 2020 to September 2021, inclusive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46563/21]
418. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of persons who were turned away from the public office of the passport office on a weekly basis from March 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46564/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 417 and 418 together.
The Passport Service maintained operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, notwithstanding the fact that the processing of passports requires physical attendance on site to deliver this service. As a result of well implemented safety protocols, our staff were able to assist citizens both at home and abroad who required passports for a range of emergency and urgent personal, business or legal reasons, or who had compelling humanitarian needs to travel.
In the first four months of this year 3,000 urgent passports, were issued to citizens who had either urgent personal or humanitarian needs for a passport. While schedules for urgent situations are not maintained, on a case by case basis, issued passports have been collected by citizens in person when the postal service was not an effective delivery option.
The public offices of the Passport Service in Cork and in Mount Street have been closed in line with COVID-19 public health restrictions and the public have complied fully with those restrictions. While the pandemic has massively disrupted Passport and other public services, I am pleased that so far this year we have managed to have multiple interactions with our citizens by phone and online, provided over 300,000 passports since 4 May while our emergency services have been maintained for those with a medical emergency or death of a family member abroad. There was one security related incident this year which has been reported to An Garda Síochána, where people were removed from our premises to ensure the safety of staff.
I wish to inform the Deputy that, in line with our continued scaling up of services, the Passport Office in Mount Street resumed its Urgent Appointment Service for renewal of Passports on Monday, 27 September 2021. The Urgent Appointment Service for renewal of passports will be available to people who unexpectedly require their passport renewed at short notice and opt for this fee based service to do so.
Applicants are now able to book an appointment to attend the public passport office in Mount Street. Passport applicants who require a same day passport renewal can book appointments 3 days in advance. Applicants who require a four day renewal service can book appointments 3 weeks in advance.
The Passport Service will continue to prioritise its emergency service for those who require a passport for a medical emergency or death of a family member abroad.
419. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of staff reassigned from the passport office FRR section to the HSE for essential contact tracing, to the Department of Social Protection for the processing of essential pandemic unemployment payments and to support the Department of Health with quarantine issues; when those staff members will return to work for his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46566/21]
To assist with the response to COVID-19, 166 Passport Service personnel were redeployed into essential public service roles, such as contact tracing for the HSE, assisting the Department of Social Protection to facilitate the processing of COVID-19 related benefits, providing consular assistance to Irish citizens overseas and assisting the Public Appointments Service.
Two officers from the Passport Service are currently assigned to the Department of Health Mandatory Hotel Quarantine advice line. Officials in my Department are engaging with the Department of Health to return these officers following the recent decision to discontinue the Mandatory Hotel Quarantine advice line. In addition, two officers from the Passport Service remain assigned to the Public Appointments Service to assist with recruitment efforts.
At present, of the 519 staff working in the Passport Service in August 2021, less than one per cent were working from home on a full-time basis, as staff directly involved in customer service and the production of passports are required to work on site.
420. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the exact number of temporary clerical officers assigned by the Public Appointments Service to the passport office in recent weeks; if all of those temporary staff have commenced their employment to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46567/21]
From the 23 August to date, 44 Temporary Clerical Officers were assigned through the Public Appointments Service. Nine TCOs who were assigned did not take up employment with my Department.
I can assure the Deputy that staffing needs for the Passport Service, including additional resources to meet the projected demand continues to be an ongoing priority for my Department and an issue which is kept under constant review.
421. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding a passport application by persons (details supplied); the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46589/21]