Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney has confirmed that the number of Irish passports issued this year is just under 500,000.
In a recent written Dáil reply to Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, Minister Coveney stated that to date this year, over 490,000 passports have been issued.
The Tánaiste stated that this follows 780,000 passports in 2017 and over 822,000 passports issued throughout 2018.
He stated: “The increase in demand for Irish passports is driven by a number of factors including a general increase in the number of Irish residents travelling abroad and a growing population."
Mr Coveney also confirmed that there has also been a significant increase in passport applications from applicants in Northern Ireland and in Britain since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
In order to meet the increased demand, the Tánaiste stated that at the end of 2018, the Passport Service employed 363 Full-Time Equivalent staff.
This is an increase of over 40 staff since the same point in 2017. Already this year, over 90 additional Full-Time Equivalent staff have taken up roles in the Passport Service.
“The Passport Service has received approval to recruit over 230 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) in 2019 to assist in processing passport applications and to deal with queries from the general public," he added.
“The Passport Service is currently handling approximately 5,000 calls and 3,800 webchats per week. Thanks to this dedicated customer service team, we are able to quickly resolve most queries at the first point of contact.”
The Tánaiste stated that online passport application service “brings significant benefits to citizens with faster turnaround times at a lower cost. 45% of all applications received in 2019 have been online applications and over 60% of those eligible to use the online application channel have done so”.
“The online service has been instrumental in the efficient management of overall passport operations and in allowing the Passport Service to allocate staff resources more efficiently to cope with unprecedented demand."
To assist with forecasting future demand for Irish passports, Mr Coveney's "Department has commissioned research to better understand the potential demand for passports from Irish citizens in the United Kingdom who have not yet applied for a passport”.