Open dedicated office for NI Irish passports, urges Senator

SF Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile urges Government to ‘put its money where its mouth is’

Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile has called for a Department of Foreign Affairs office to deal with applications for Irish passports from  Northern Ireland. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile has called for a Department of Foreign Affairs office to deal with applications for Irish passports from Northern Ireland. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Belfast-based Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has called for a dedicated Department of Foreign Affairs office to deal with applications for Irish passports from people in Northern Ireland.

Last year, he said, over 82,000 passport applications were received in the Republic from the North, and even more from Britain.

“First-time applicants for Irish passports accounted for almost one-half of the requests received last year alone,” Mr Ó Donnghaile added.

He told the Seanad on Tuesday his request had received the support of other parties.

“I call on the Government to put its money where its mouth is and to make a practical infrastructural service investment in the northern part of our country,” he added.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ciaran Cannon said the Government had worked exceptionally hard to ensure it provided a modern, secure and efficient passport service.

Unprecedented demand

“An ambitious reform programme is in place to meet the unprecedented demand for passports from Irish citizens at home and abroad, and to continuously strengthen systems guarding against fraud and protecting the integrity of the Irish passport,” he added.

Mr Cannon said the award-winning online passport renewal scheme offered a 24-hour service.

Citizens who could not, or did not, wish to apply online had the option of applying through their local post office, he added.

He said the Northern Ireland passport express service offered an equivalent service to those living there from more than 70 of its post offices.