Derry SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack has expressed frustration over the response to her call her a special service elected representatives can use in cases of emergencies concerning Irish passports.
Colr. Cusack had written to the Irish government regarding concerns around the passport service. The Irish he government has responded however that people can present at its offices or access its services online.
Colr. Cusack said she has been “inundated with people panicking about the processing of their applications and the lack of accurate online information together with no response to calls or emails”.
“I wrote directly to the Department for Foreign Affairs outlining the frustrations and stress that hundreds of people here were experiencing when urgently waiting for their applications to be processed. Trying to get information was practically impossible as lines were always jammed or simply suspended.
“My request to have an emergency number dedicated to elected reps, much like other organisations do, was on the basis that it would not be abused and we could help them and them us with the multitude of issues from Irish Passport applicants in our areas. We all know it’s not so simple to just pop into their Dublin office to have a chat.”
Colr. Cusack said she had to chase up her initial request, and described the response as “hugely disappointing”. “I have therefore written back, expressing this frustration and requesting that once again they deal with my initial request,” she said.
In correspondence from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney’s office, Colr. Cusack was told that there was a dedicated Communication Unit to respond to queries from passport applicants via telephone, email or by web chat. “Due to the high volume of calls and emails currently being received, the Passport Service may not be able to answer as many as it would like to. However, detailed and regularly updated information on passport services; current average turnaround times and comprehensive guides to the various application processes can be consulted on the Passport Service website. The Passport Service also has a Customer Care desk in the public offices (Mount Street, Dublin and Cork) where applicants can visit without an appointment for an update on their application,” the letter stated.
In cases of emergency, such as the death or illness of a relative, the Passport Service can be contacted by email at: email@example.com, the letter stated.