Irish passport delay could end parents’ dream of uniting ‘miracle baby’ with grandmother

Couple say they applied on May 16th and ‘can’t understand why people are being so unhelpful’

The mother of a “miracle baby” says dreams of uniting the toddler with his grandmother for the first time could be destroyed within days because of a months-long delay in issuing his Irish passport.

Lynn Yin (40) accused the Passport Office of vetting prematurely born Cillian like an “international criminal”, and she faces losing thousands of euro, having applied for his passport three months before they were due to fly out.

“We just keep getting the line that it is a first-time passport, so we need rigorous checks,” she tells The Irish Times.

“I completely appreciate that, but Cillian is a 15-month-old baby at the moment. I’m not sure what kind of international criminal record we are looking for here. He’s not able to even walk and talk yet.”


Yin and her partner, John Ruddy (40), from Dublin, say they applied for Cillian’s passport on May 16th, a week after Cillian was cleared by medics to fly.

The boy suffers from chronic lung disease as a result of being born 14 weeks premature. Immediately after his birth it was uncertain whether Cillian would survive.

Throughout their ordeal — during which Cillian was kept in intensive care for months — they kept in touch with Ruddy’s mother, Moira, who is from Newry but now lives in France, by phone and video-calls.

It actually still says on the application tracker that the passport was due to be issued on July 7th. It is unbelievable

“Cillian is our first and only baby. He’s an IVF baby. He’s a miracle baby,” says Yin. “John and I have been together since university and we are both 40 now. With all the complications during the pregnancy, it has been a hell of a year.

“His granny can’t get over to us because of health reasons, so as soon as Cillian was cleared to fly we applied for his Irish passport. I can’t describe how much this means to his granny. She is so desperate to meet him, and John is so desperate for him to meet her.”

The family of three were due to fly out from their home in Manchester to France on August 17th.

Yin says they have followed all the guidelines in making the online passport application and were told in May the normal processing time was 25 days. No further documents or information had been sought by the passport office, she adds.

“It actually still says on the application tracker that the passport was due to be issued on July 7th. It is unbelievable. When we first started contacting the passport office, saying ‘We are concerned about this’, they were really helpful, providing as much information as possible.

“Over the last few weeks, as it has gotten more urgent, the passport office’s answers have been monosyllabic. We can’t get any information other than it is in a queue.”

‘Unavoidable delay’

Yin says the anticipation of finally uniting granny and grandson has been “the highlight of our existence and her existence for the last three months”.

“I can’t believe now it might not happen. The passport office said it takes up to five working days to deliver to the UK once the passport is issued. So we are looking at a situation where if it is not issued by tomorrow, that will be it really.

“I called them this morning and they said ‘We can’t tell you anything, sorry, it was down to an unavoidable delay at [the passport office end]’.”

Between non-refundable booked accommodation, car hire, flights and luggage costs, “all told we are looking at losing £4,000 (€4,738),” says Yin.

“But this was not just a holiday. If it was just a holiday and we had to take the loss, fine. If it was our fault and we delayed it, or didn’t get our application in on time, fine. But we made the application in the middle of May with a guideline of 25 days to process it.

“The passport office’s attitude to this whole thing has just added insult to injury. I can’t understand why people are being so unhelpful.”

At the time we didn’t know for months if our baby would live. John’s mum saw all of that and she is just so desperate now to meet her grandson

Irish passport holder Ruddy, from Skerries, north Co Dublin, and Yin, who is of Chinese origin and holds a British passport, never considered applying for a British passport for Cillian as they want him “to identify as Irish”.

“John is working full time and, when he has the time to spare, he is trying to follow up these issues,” says Yin.

“He is massively stressed. It is his mum we are going to see. Basically he is desperate to introduce his baby to his mum. It is just so hard to describe the anticipation because of what we have been through.

“Nobody thought we could have a baby, and when the IVF was a success there were amazing celebrations. When Cillian was born at 26 weeks it was a question of: will he make it?

“I can sound quite blasé about it all now because of all the counselling for the trauma of it, but at the time we didn’t know for months if our baby would live. John’s mum saw all of that and she is just so desperate now to meet her grandson.”

Passport Service response

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Passport Service could not comment on individual applications but that “first-time online applications take longer to process, due to the necessary security checks.”

“These are currently taking 25 working days. This processing time has been reduced by 40 per cent since March, when it was 40 working days,” a spokeswoman said.

“Turnaround times apply to fully complete and correct passport applications and begin from the date supporting documents are received by the Passport Service, not the online registration date. Applications that are incomplete and require further supporting documents will take longer.”

“There are currently 130,000 applications in the system. While there is a high volume ... this does not represent a backlog,” the spokeswoman said.

“These applications are all being processed in the usual way, with a continuous stream of new applications and a continuous dispatch of completed passports happening every day. The Passport Service issued 20,000 passports last week and almost 800,000 passports have been issued to date this year.

“The Passport Service is producing record numbers of passports, beating the previous busiest year (2019) by almost 20 per cent.”

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor