Sinn Féin welcome Irish Government comments on northern passport office
Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has welcomed comments from Irish Government Minister, Micheál Martin TD, that the provision of a regional passport office in the North is "under ongoing and active review". The opening of such an office would deliver numerous benefits to those living in northern counties who are seeking an Irish passport.
Speaking today Mr McElduff said:
"I have met directly with the Minister Martin TD and written to him personally asking him to locate an Irish passport office in the north of Ireland. In a correspondence to me this week the Minister assured me that the proposal is under ongoing and active review" by the Irish government.
I welcome this review and I also want to pay tribute to the Irish passport office for their work in making passport applications for people living in the north of Ireland easier and more accessible.
"However, while the current service is professional, there remains the concern that applying from the north still entails an additional cost of £6. Families catering for a number of children feel significantly this cost. In many cases it comes close to the cost of another passport.
"It has also been raised that not everybody knows where the forms are available, the process around completing them, or the fact that there are a range of different methods of applying such as Express Post or through the ordinary postal service.
"The provision of a locally based passport office in the north would neutralise these difficulties as has been witnessed with the opening of a regional office in Cork. This would make information surrounding the application process more readily available and eliminate the current surcharge. For the convenience of customer in the north the siting of an local office is now necessary.
"Whether a new office is located in Belfast, Derry, Omagh or Newry is up for discussion and decision. It is the principle of establishing a passport office in the north that is important. Any local office would provide greater access to thousands of people living in all the northern counties wishing to access an Irish passport. Dublin is still further from Donegal that any of the towns I have mentioned and needs to be included in any consideration."