SINN Féin TD for East Cork Pat Buckley has called for additional supports for passport offices including more staff to help with the backlog of passport applications which has steadily increased in the past year.
Recent figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed that around 57,000 people are waiting for their passport applications to be processed with the service paused since December under Level 5 restrictions.
Mr Buckley said: “While we are in lockdown and non-essential travel is restricted, many people still need to renew, replace or obtain a passport.
“This is not just an issue of people having to wait, it also has implications for the small number of people who do need to travel for essential purposes as well as making things difficult for people who may need a passport to access other services , entitlements and rights as citizens.
“In recent years the issue of longer waiting periods for passports has arisen repeatedly. Brexit was one major impacting factor.
"Thousands of Irish citizens living in the north of Ireland and Britain were now applying for an Irish passport as a necessity given the changing political setup. Covid restrictions have now added to these problems.
“The Government need to provide additional resources to the passport office to clear this backlog, including additional staff. This would also benefit people who are temporarily out of work due to the lockdown.
“Sinn Féin have also repeatedly called for the establishment of a passport service in the north of Ireland to further address increased application numbers which are no doubt still a contributing factor [in] the backlog.”