50,000 passports were lost or stolen over 18-month period

MORE than 50,000 passports were either lost or stolen over an 18-month period.

The startling level of misplacement and theft emerged during a week when five fake Irish passports were used by members of a team of assassins who shot a senior Hamas figure in Dubai last month.

The Department of Foreign Affairs figures show that:

nIn 2008, 36,264 passports were reported either lost or stolen. Of these 31,262 were reported lost and 5,002 were reported stolen.

nIn the first six months of 2009, 14,413 passports were reported lost and 2,422 were reported stolen.

Close to 900,000 passports were issued during the corresponding 18-month period.

The serious consequences of passport theft are evident in the ongoing investigation into the murder of Mabhouh al-Mahmoud.

The incident sparked major diplomatic rows between Israel and the countries whose citizens’ passport security has been compromised.

Meanwhile, the Irish embassy in Israel said Ireland was being “drip fed” details by Dubai authorities on the use of fake Irish passports.

Irish Ambassador Breifne O’Reilly, in Tel Aviv, said if further revelations emerged about the killing, Israel would be expected to respond.

Mr O’Reilly said he met Israeli officials and underlined the importance of Irish passport security.


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