The current passport debacle that is preventing Irish citizens from travelling abroad because of the log-jam in passport applications is becoming increasingly intolerable and is affecting Ireland’s reputation abroad. The Minister must work to find a solution to allow Irish people to travel within the European Union at least, according to Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony.
“The situation regarding passport applications here has become untenable. I have been inundated with calls from people that are being prevented from travelling abroad which is completely intolerable, regardless of the ongoing industrial action. Now these people will be unable to travel and will be at a financial loss as well as not being able to carry out their business through no fault of their own.
“The Minister cannot simply shrug his shoulders at the problem. He can and should negotiate an emergency mechanism with other EU members states, through the European Council, whereby those with passports that are out of date since the beginning of 2010, can at least travel within the EU. This would address directly the bind in which many frustrated Irish citizens find themselves.”
Deputy O’Mahony’s Fine Gael colleague Dep Michael Ring has been prompted to call for the opening of a passport office in the west. Speaking in the Dáil the Westport deputy said it was a disgrace there was not a passport office west of the Shannon.
He protested: “The west again has been left without a vital service. Government policy is for the decentralisation of services. Yet the most basic of services - the right to obtain a passport - can only be obtained in Dublin or Cork.”
Dep Ring also highlighted the fact that anybody born in Ireland prior to 1949 could apply for a British passport. He said: “This is particularly relevant considering the hardship currently being endured by people trying to obtain a passport.”