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Statement on the ongoing Industrial Action in the Passport Offices

 

I would ask staff in the Passport Service to resume normal working procedures in the passport office. I am greatly concerned at the effects that the ongoing Industrial Action is having on the Irish public. Discussions are underway to resolve the current dispute. Continuation of this action will only have the effect of inflicting pain on Irish people who have plans to travel for personal or business reasons. The place to solve this dispute is through the Talks Process, not by inconveniencing people and putting them to extra cost.

There is now a considerable back log and the turnaround time has increased from 10 working days to between 18 and 20 working days. Updates on applications are on www.passport.ie.

The Passport Service is normally one of the most efficient and well-run public services in this country. It enjoys a huge amount of trust and respect from the public. Every year the service provides up to 600,000 passports to Irish citizens throughout the 32 counties of Ireland and the rest of world. It operates a 24 hour, 365 day a week emergency service. It has been measured favourably against passport services in a number of European countries.

This well-earned respect has been placed in jeopardy by the current action. This Industrial Action has led to the build up of a backlog of over 40,000 applications in the system. As a result it has brought misery for many people who simply wanted the State to provide them with travel documents. There have been long queues outside Molesworth Street in Dublin. Conditions there are simply not acceptable. Some people have traveled long distances to collect a passport only to find the service to the public be withdrawn with little or no notice. The nature of this dispute is particularly hard on the most vulnerable members of society.

ENDS

Press Office

22 March 2010