Foreign affairs department snowed under with UK applications for Irish passports

Foreign affairs department snowed under with UK applications for Irish passports

Demand for Irish passports has surged in Britain since Brexit.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was snowed under with a backlog of more than 30,000 complex foreign birth registrations, many from British citizens looking for Irish passports after Brexit.

In pre-budget discussions, the department said it had been a difficult year for their passport services, as it struggled to deal with a bounce-back in demand after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

In a letter to the Department of Public Expenditure, it asked for an extra €15m in funding this year to ensure no backlogs and to help pay for a passport reform programme.

The department said they had been granted an extra €10m for 2022 to help in issuing a record 1.2m passports this year.

It said it would need to retain the same allocation this year with passport applications again predicted to be around 1.2m in 2023.

In the letter, department secretary general Joe Hackett wrote: “During 2022, we have seen multiple record months for the number of applications received.

“As you are aware, we encountered some customer service issues, particularly in relation to our call centre. This was primarily due to the challenges in the recruitment of staff. I am pleased that these issues have now been resolved.”

Funding to tackle backlog

Mr Hackett said the extra funding would also be used to tackle a 30,000-long backlog in “complex foreign birth registration applications”.

He said many of these were from British citizens opting for Irish passports after Brexit and that experienced passport staff would be needed to tackle the build-up of applications.

The department also said it wanted to streamline the system for these applications to help provide a “faster, more responsive service”.

Mr Hackett also explained how the department had been severely hit by the impact of inflation and dramatic foreign currency fluctuations.

He said it operated in over 80 different countries and that while inflationary pressures differed in each, there was a “sustained rise in utility and rental costs and increasing payroll costs for staff locally recruited”.

The department said the falling value of the euro against the US dollar, a decline of around 15%, had left them “very exposed”.

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