Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has been urged to give consideration to purchasing a passport printing machine for Cork.
Seán Sherlock, Cork East Labour TD, said a Cork-based passport printing machine would alleviate waiting times.
“There is huge pressure on the passport office, and will be again as holiday season approaches, to turn around passports,” Mr Sherlock told the Dáil.
“Another machine, based in the Cork office, would take the pressure off the Dublin machines and be able to service not just Cork but the wider Munster and Southern area, and would also allow for collections of passports to recommence in the Cork office for urgent situations."
Responding, the Tánaiste said 2022 had been an exceptionally busy year for the Passport Service, with over 1,085,000 passports issued, and 2023 looked set to be similarly busy, with 61,386 passports issued to date.
There are currently 56,000 fully complete applications in the Passport Service system, including 29,000 renewal applications, Mr Martin said, and are being processed in line with normal turnaround times.
“Passport Online is the quickest and easiest channel for passport applicants. Passport Online is used by over 90% of applicants and is available to 97% of applicants worldwide.”
Mr Martin said that thanks to significant Government investment, turnaround times for online applications are now in line with pre-Covid rates.
The Passport Service operates three passport printing machines, two of which are located in the main production facility at the Balbriggan campus and the third in the Passport Office in Dublin 2. Each passport printer has a printing capacity of 250 passports per hour.
The Cork office can facilitate a four-day turnaround for urgent renewal appointments and the immediate issuance of an emergency passport in situations of genuine urgency such as a medical emergency or a bereavement abroad.
Mr Martin said.
“I am satisfied overall that the current production capacity meets the needs of passport applicants.
“While there are no current plans to install a printing machine in the Cork office, the Passport Service will continue to consider ways in which to enhance customer experience.”