Fermanagh families’ anxious wait for passports

FERMANAGH families are facing the prospect of missing long-awaited holidays, and some have already been forced to fork out hundreds of pounds to postpone their trips, due to serious delays with passport applications.
After years of being unable to go on holiday, or visit loved ones abroad, there are families across the county already unsure if they will be able to travel in the coming weeks due to delays in the Irish passport office in Dublin.
One local family who applied for passports for their family last September and are due to fly out next month were just recently told by the Dublin office they would not be getting them in time. They have been forced to apply for an express British passport, which is now due to arrive the day before they leave.
Another family, which the Herald spoke with, was due to travel this week to Majorca, their first holiday since 2011, but have had to pay £500 to postpone their trip until the end of August.
Debbie Coyle, who is welfare officer for MLA Jemma Dolan, said their offices across the county were being inundated with multiple similar queries every single day.
“It’s absolutely shocking,” said Ms Coyle, stating in many cases parents are applying for children, such as in the case of an Irvinestown family who had applied for a passport for their baby that had yet to arrive just weeks before they are due to leave.
She has also been dealing with an Enniskillen family who applied for their children’s passport in September, thinking it would arrive by Christmas, and had only very recently been told by the Dublin passport office their children’s applications had been since been cancelled. They are also due to travel in the coming weeks.
“[They] are so annoyed with Dublin,” she said, noting the family had since applied for a fast-tracked British passport due to arrive the day before they leave.
“If they had told them before Christmas there’s no way we can get it to you before June, they would have had a British passport already.”
Ms Coyle noted that Sinn Féin offices in the South were not experiencing the same level of passport queries and delays, and questioned why northerners were waiting so much longer. She also noted similar delays were never experienced in the past. This week the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin denied there was a backlog in applications, stating many forms were filled out incorrectly, but said it had experienced a significant influx of applications.

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