Further calls for establishment of Irish passport office in North
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This follows the temporary suspension in December 2022 by the Irish Passport Office of the postage of passports and documentation to Northern Ireland and Great Britain, as a result of Royal Mail strikes.
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the disruption is further proof of the need for a provision here
He has written to the Irish government reiterating calls for the establishment of an office in the North.
In November 2022, a record one million Irish passports were issued within a period of 10 months at which point Mr Durkan was advised by previous Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney that there were no plans to implement a passport office in Northern Ireland. The suspension of postage was confirmed the following month.
Following correspondence to Foreign Affairs Minister, Micheál Martin, the Foyle MLA commented:
"The SDLP has been campaigning for an Irish passport office to be established here for many years and the benefits are clear. The record breaking statistics last year are not only testament to that need but the latest issues around the suspended postage of Irish passports to the North further underscores the importance of having a localised provision.
“The temporary disruption was put in place as a result of Royal Mail strike action but given that no further dates are planned according to the Communication Workers’ Union, this suspension should be lifted with immediate effect. And I’ve written to the Department for Foreign Affairs in the South outlining that case. At present, applicants from Northern Ireland are being advised to travel to Dublin in order to collect their new passports and documentation. This sets citizens from the North at further disadvantage, complicating access to important documents to which they are entitled.
“A passport office based in the North is a common sense solution, not just to this predicament but the overall delays and recurring problems facing applicants here. It would also ease the significant pressures facing Passport Office staff given the unprecedented demand of late.
Mr Durkan continued: “Countless calls have been made to the Irish government over the years for a passport office for the North. Brexit has undoubtedly increased demand for Irish passports and has set a precedent which is likely to continue. I hope the Irish Government will seriously reconsider this proposal to ensure that every person on this island can avail if this important service.”
West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley MP has also called for an Irish Passport Office in Northern Ireland.
"The Irish Passport Office has temporarily suspended posting passports to the six counties and this highlights the need for the government to open a passport office here.
"The passport office have said if you have applied for an Irish passport you can arrange to collect it from the Dublin Passport Office or get the passport posted to an address in the south. If you travel to the Passport Office in Dublin you need to ring them in advance on 00353 1671 1633 to arrange collection.
“Unfortunately this action has caused much uncertainty for travellers. Last year just under 128,000 of applications (50,000 of which were first time applications) came from the north.
“A passport office in the north is needed in order to address the huge number of applications posted from the north."