Chain protest adds to chaos at office

THE Dublin passport office witnessed more chaotic scenes yesterday with a frustrated customer chaining himself to a door inside the office demanding a passport to travel to his brother’s wedding in Thailand.

Colin Gillick, 34, was among nearly 200 worried passport seekers who queued on Dublin’s Molesworth Street fearing that his plans to travel on Monday would be ruined by the continuing industrial dispute.

“So I decided to take action, I took the chain out and chained myself to the handle of a door.”

Gardaí were called to the scene and threatened to arrest the protester for causing a public nuisance until he agreed to return tomorrow – escorted by officers – to collect his documents.

Mr Gillick, an unemployed landscape designer, said he had saved hard for a year for the holiday and wasn’t prepared to forfeit the money he paid for the trip.

“I don’t have a job, I’m not going to get in to the whole argument of public verses private, but they’re damn lucky to have a job,” he added.

However, by early afternoon, order seemed to have been restored to the passport application process as a CPSU commitment to aid the office’s work by relaxing their industrial action took effect.

Those queuing were called according to whether they were collecting passports, applying or had other enquires.

By 2.30pm, the queue outside the office was down to around 20 people.

Among those queuing was Dublin corporation worker, Joanne McCullagh. She said: “I’m going on my honeymoon to Mexico in three weeks, I only realised today that you have to have six months extra on your passport to travel there and my partner’s passport is up in June, so I’m queuing for his passport.

“I’m sick and tried of the Government taking money off me every couple of months and my partner is out of work, it’s just rubbish. I think the workers in the passport office are right in some ways, the Government just can’t keep taking money off the same people, that’s just wrong. They need to dig a bit deeper into their own pockets.”

Steven Fahy from Glendalough, Co Wicklow, intends travelling to France next week.

He said: “You can go back and say it is all to do with Government, the mismanagement of banks and then they don’t have the money to pay people who are working.

“Really, they should try and cut some money from the middle management and higher management and distribute it more fairly, then people would have less gripes.

“Also they could introduce cheaper ID cards and sign up to the Schengen EU travel agreement.”

Ten-week-old baby, Louis Keeley, from north Co Dublin, was one of the lucky ones who left the office with his first passport.

The newborn will travel to Cardiff today with parents Paul and Paula to meet his grandparents, great-grandparents and cousins.

“I’m delighted,” said Ms Keeley.

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