TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney has said there are no plans to extend passport services in Cork city.
It would cost around €1.7m to install a new passport printing machine at the passport office on South Mall, excluding the cost of security, maintenance, technical fit-out, staffing or rental costs.
“Given the current capacity for printing and the costs involved, installing further passport printing facilities in the Passport Office in Cork is not required at this time,” said Mr Coveney.
It comes following questioning from Fianna Fáil Deputy Aindrias Moynihan, who called for passports to be immediately available to people in the Cork office, so people don’t have to travel to Dublin for an emergency passport.
“The Passport Office in Cork can facilitate the issuance on the spot of an emergency passport where there is an urgent need to travel for medical reasons or due to a bereavement abroad,” the Tánaiste said.
However, these are only issued in cases of genuine emergency. In non-emergency cases, people can book an appointment in Dublin, or can have their application processed in Cork within three working days.
Deputy Moynihan said: “In the interests of balanced regional development, I am seeking that a service be made available such that people would have access to the faster turnaround and be on an equal footing.
“It should not be all Dublin-based,” he said.
“We should explore the possibility of having services distributed throughout the country.
“Cork is the only Passport Office outside Dublin and it does not have a printing facility.”
However, Mr Coveney responded, saying: “We have put in place a very efficient system.
“I take the deputy’s point that sometimes people make a legitimate mistake by not checking their passport when due to go away and, as a result, need a fast turnaround time.
“Some people need to drive to Dublin to get a passport.”
However, he continued: “I am not saying ‘no forever’ regarding printing in Cork.”