Dublin passport office closed as civil servants take action

THE Dublin passport office closed yesterday afternoon as part of an ongoing campaign of industrial action by civil servants.

The offices will reopen on Monday morning. The closure is part of a campaign of industrial action against pay cuts by members of the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents lower-paid civil servants.

A small number of people with imminent travel plans staged a sit-in at the Dublin office until they were issued with passports or assurances they would be delivered prior to Monday

However a claim by the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Cork passport office would similarly be closed by the industrial action turned out to be inaccurate.

In the Cork passport office confusion reigned as hundreds of passport applicants rushed in before what they believed to be a 1pm deadline. Just before lunchtime there were nearly 70 people queuing.

They need not have bothered panicking as the CPSU said it never had any intention of closing the office.

CPSU deputy general secretary Eoin Ronayne said while staff weren’t answering telephone inquiries, they always had every intention of working their normal 9.30am-4.30pm shift.

Mr Ronayne said the press release issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs was inaccurate regarding industrial action planned for the Cork office.

Fine Gael called on the Government to negotiate an emergency mechanism to allow people to travel within the EU on expired documentation.

Fine Gael spokesman on foreign affairs, Billy Timmins, said “the current passport debacle” was preventing Irish citizens from travelling abroad as a result of the log-jam in the processing of applications. He said this was becoming increasingly intolerable and was affecting Ireland’s reputation abroad.

The industrial action is continuing in parallel with the talks between public sector unions and Government representatives which are dealing with the recent wage cuts and service reform.

These talks are expected to reach a critical stage next week when negotiators will consider whether a basis for agreement is emerging.

Meanwhile an agreement has been reached between SIPTU, the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) and the Mount Carmel Hospital Group which has temporarily suspended pay cuts prior to a full independent financial review of the hospital.

Strike action in Mount Carmel Hospital, Dublin, and Aut Even, Kilkenny, was due to start next Monday.

The independent review, chaired by nominees of ICTU and IBEC, will be followed by a process of engagement with the hospital management.

SIPTU branch organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “This process will provide the best opportunity of resolving all issues associated with this dispute.”

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