Former ministers to lose diplomatic passports in tightening of criteria
More than 60 former members of government and retired senior civil servants will be requested to return diplomatic and official passports issued to them while in office under a proposed tightening of the eligibility criteria for such passports.
A review found there are 1,900 diplomatic passports and 7,400 official passports in circulation. Diplomatic passports are generally issued to Irish diplomats overseas, members of the Oireachtas and the judiciary. Official passports were issued to other public servants and members of the Defence Forces who travel outside the State on official business.
Possession of a diplomatic passport does not generally entitle the holder to any privileges or immunities, except in certain cases according to the domestic law of the host country.
However, most countries extend some form of courtesy or consideration to someone travelling on such a document, including use of a fast-track channel at immigration.
The decision to revise the eligibility criteria arose from the view that there had been some “blurring of entitlement”.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore will bring the proposed amendments to Cabinet on Tuesday.
The revised criteria will mean applications will only be approved for those who can demonstrate they require a passport for travel to undertake official business on behalf of the State. Any passport issued may only be used for official travel and not for personal travel.
The passports will be valid only for the period required to perform that official role, which in most cases will not extend beyond three years. Applicants must pledge that the passport will be returned for cancellation should their role change before the document expires.
Former ministers including Fianna Fáil’s Mary Coughlan and Michael O’Kennedy; former TDs including Fine Gael’s Jim O’Keeffe and Fianna Fáil’s Ned O’Keeffe, and former senators including Fianna Fáil’s Ivor Callely and the Green Party’s Dan Boyle are among those who will be asked to return their diplomatic passports.
Mr Gilmore is to instruct his officials to contact the individuals concerned to retrieve the passports.