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One concrete benefit of Brexit: The Passport Office is hiring extra staff

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 16/02/2017 Daragh Brophy

© samboal THE PASSPORT OFFICE is recruiting extra staff to cope with a surge in demand in response to last year’s Brexit vote in the UK.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that while it did not compile reasons why people applied for passports, it was reasonable to assume that the vote to leave the European Union was a factor in the increase in demand from Britain and Northern Ireland.

Applications from the North were up by 77% in January, compared to the same month last year. Demand from Britain was up by over 70% on the January 2015 figure.

© Dept Foreign Affairs

It comes amid continuing political turmoil in London over planned Brexit negotiations. There are concerns that UK passport holders will lose benefits like freedom to work anywhere in the union, in the wake of the country’s exit.

Brexit minister David Davis said this week he expects the government to meets its end-of-March deadline to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, kicking off the formal exit negotiation process.

Back here, other factors leading to an increase in passport demand over the last year include a large number of Irish citizens travelling for last summers Euros, and a spike in applications in 2006 feeding through in renewals ten years later.   

“Early indicators in 2017 are showing that increased demand for passports is likely to be sustained, certainly in the immediate future,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said.

“We are in the course of delivering a major Passport Reform Programme which will ensure significant customer service improvements to benefit citizens in the near future.

“This includes the introduction of online adult renewals which will mean a more efficient service for applicants.  I expect to start rolling out this programme before the end of March this year.”

To respond to the increase in demand the Passport Service is recruiting over 230 Temporary Clerical Officers, over half of which are already in place, Flanagan said.

I am carefully monitoring passport services and discussed the matter with my officials today.

He added:

It is vital that applicants check the validity of their passports before booking travel, apply in good time, ensure forms are correctly completed, and consult the different turnaround times for different categories of passport.

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