Passport office for the North is ‘long past time’ warns Derry MLA

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SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has reiterated calls for the establishment of an Irish passport office for the North of the island.

Mr Durkan had previously written to Micheál Martin, Minister for the Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA) calling for the provision in a bid to streamline the service for Irish citizens from Northern Ireland who face additional burdens as part of the application process in terms of document requirements compared to citizens resident in the South.

The MLA for Foyle said that recent figures released by DFA which have shown that five of the top seven counties for first time adult applicants for Irish passports in 2023 were based in the North, are testament to the need for an office within the northern region.

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“The SDLP has been calling for a north based Irish Passport Office for quite some time, which would improve accessibility and make the process easier for everyone involved but specifically for citizens in the North. We doubled down on that call as predictions of an influx of Irish passport applications post-Brexit were realised,” Mr Durkan said.

Mr Durkan said a passport office in the north is long overdue.Mr Durkan said a passport office in the north is long overdue.
Mr Durkan said a passport office in the north is long overdue.

Despite a record number of passports being issued in 2022, surpassing one million, successive Ministers, the Derry politician claimed, were “reluctant to agree to our proposals for a physical passport office here instead focusing on measures to improve the service for all users”.

“Recent data released by the Department for Foreign Affairs is testament to the increased demand and need in the northern counties,” he added.

“18,000 new applications from NI were submitted in 2023 alone and Derry had one of the highest application rates on the island. If this isn’t proof of need for a provision here, I don’t know what is.

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"While the online application portal has improved the service to a degree, for many people it can be a lengthy and often frustrating service particularly for first time applicants from Northern Ireland who are subject to additional checks.”

"Issues around delays with childrens’ passports for citizens in the North is well documented and discrepancies in terms of ID requirements is causing difficulty.

“It continues to be the case that, applicants here 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- nothing compares to face-to-face customer service when it comes to resolving problems in a timely manner. Not only would this provision alleviate pressures facing the Passport Service in Dublin but it would vastly improve the service applicants in the North. I hope Minister Martin will reconsider this proposal.”