The number of passport applications has “gone off the charts” this year, the Foreign Affairs Minister has said.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Simon Coveney said there has been well over 100,000 applications in each of the first three months of 2022.
He said the Passport Office had never dealt with more than 100,000 in a month before.
He was speaking after Limerick TD Richard O’Donoghue warned that huge delays in non-standard passport applications was causing “stress and anxiety” for families.
Minister Coveney said the Passport Office was dealing with the highest number of applications it has ever faced.
“The main issue that is driving pressure at the moment is just the sheer volume of applications,” he said. “It is just off the charts in terms of anything else we have experienced in recent years.
“We have had three months in a row now of record application numbers – as in the highest ever.
“I think it was 137,000 in January, it was over 150,000 in February and it will certainly be over 100,000 in March and in any previous year, we hadn’t gone over 100,00 in a month.”
He said the system is working “reasonably well” for the most part – with people getting their passport back within a day when their application is “straight-froward”.
“Obviously for other more complicated cases it is different and we do need to have a system to allow Oireachtas members to intervene when necessary,” he said.
He said a temporary phone line that was established back in October to deal with the high volume of requests responded to over 2,700 people last year and had already responded to over 3,600 this year.
“This week there have been very high volumes and my understanding is the wait on the phones has been longer than normal and we are going to respond to that in terms of increasing resources accordingly,” he said.
Last month Minister Coveney said around 1.7 million passport applications are expected this year.
He said there were around 460 people working at the Passport Office last summer adding that he expected that number to have risen to 900 by the end of this month.
An extra €10m has been set aside for passport services in 2022.