More than 400,000 passports issued to date but no backlog, says Coveney

Over 400,000 passports have been issued to date, with the Passport Service expected to be “under significant pressure this year”, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

There are around 190,000 applications in the system but this “does not represent a backlog”, Mr Coveney added.

Mr Coveney was addressing questions on passport turnaround times and delays from a number of TDs in the Dáil on Tuesday night.

Mr Coveney said over 400,000 passports have been issued to date and that in the same period in 2019, which was the last highest year, 335,000 passports had been issued at this point in the calendar.

“A more striking comparison can be seen when we look at the busiest month in 2019 when 105,000 passports were received, compared to 157,000 received in February of this year,” he said.

“117,000 passports were issued in April alone, with 45 per cent of adult renewal passports being issued within one to two working days.”

Mr Coveney said while there was a “very high volume of applications in the system”, this did not represent a backlog.

“These applications are all being processed in the usual way with a continuous stream of new applications and a continuous dispatch of completed passports happening every day,” he said.

‘Huge resources’

The Cork South Central TD said between 4,000 and 5,000 passports were being issued to people every day, and the Passport Service was expecting about 1.4 million applications this year.

Mr Coveney said “huge resources” were being pumped into the Passport Service in terms of extra staff and space.

He acknowledged there were individual cases where there were problems with paperwork as well as “glitches in the system, which happened this week, which impacted on the phonelines”.

“It’s not a perfect system but we’re going to have 900 people in the Passport Offices on three different locations this summer dealing with volumes of passports that we’ve never seen before, and the vast majority of them will be very smooth in terms of delivery.”

Sinn Féin TD John Brady said there were “serious problems” with the Passport Service, in particular for first-time applicants.

Mr Brady said many families have had to cancel holidays and “the fear is unless measures are taken now we’re going to see that replicated as we get closer and closer to the summer period”.

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