People travelling abroad this summer have been urged to apply early if they need a new passport.
During the pandemic international borders slammed shut and the number of trips abroad duly plummeted.
With the world almost back to normal, the number of people renewing their passports has surged and many have encountered huge delays.
In total around 1.7 million applications for Irish passports are expected this year and Eoghan Corry, Editor of Air and Travel magazine, said there are 200,000 in the system at the moment:
“That would be more than the equivalent two busiest months pre-COVID,” Mr Corry told Newstalk.
“If it’s a renewal it’s not that big a deal. Renewals are going through in about two weeks and six weeks for children’s passports.
“But it is a huge deal if it’s a first time applicant - that is very often children.
“What has been happening is people have been allowing their passport to run down [and] if it’s more than five-years-old you enter the system as a new applicant.”
‘Essentially an emergency’
As long ago as February, Senator Garret Ahearn described the situation as “essentially an emergency” and urged the Government to hire more staff to deal with the situation.
The Government has set aside an extra €10m to help deal with the backlog but parents of young children are still facing huge waits for the previous documents.
“My daughter is one and a half and she hasn’t met her grandmother who is quite ill,” Newstalk listener, Áine, told Lunchtime Live.
“So we’ve tried a number of times, we’ve booked a number of trips and had to cancel them because we haven’t received the passport.
“I suppose more pointedly is that we can’t get in contact with the Passport Office - which is the most frustrating thing about it!
“And I think a lot of people have found that as well.”
It is a problem that Pooja Sawant has also encountered:
“My husband’s Mum is a cancer survivor and she recently had a bone marrow transplant,” Ms Sawant explained to The Hard Shoulder.
“So it’s a life threatening surgery and he wanted to be with his Mum so he could take care of her and support her in her recovery.
“And of course she wanted to meet her grandson before she went into surgery - he would help keep her upbeat.
“So we wanted to travel before her surgery but here we are, we couldn’t go.
“Thankfully, the surgery went well, she’s recovering now and we really want to be with her but we don’t know when we’ll get to go to India, honestly.”
Main image: A man's hand holding an Irish passport in 2007. Picture by: Barry Mason / Alamy Stock Photo