JEMMA DOLAN has added her voice to the growing number of calls for an Irish Passport Office to be set up in the North.
The demand comes following the Republic of Ireland’s Finna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition government to suspend the mailing of all Irish passports to Northern Ireland.
This decision, which Dublin insists is temporary, comes about due to the Royal Mail strike over pay and conditions that has hit both the North and Great Britain.
Due to the delay caused by the extra backlog of undelivered mail, the Irish government has put a hold on new and renewed passports from being mailed out.
Dolan, who is an MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, insists this will wreak havoc with the holiday plans of those in the county and the rest of the North and has demanded a passport office be set up within the northern side of the border to help people get their documents.
She said: “News that the Irish Passport Office has temporarily suspended posting passports to the north clearly highlights the need for the government to open a passport office here in the North.
“As we head into the new year and people plan their holidays this situation is causing uncertainty and concern for prospective travellers.”
The Royal Mail strike action coincides with the recent announcement that applications for Irish passports were at an all-time high. One of the reasons for the rise in demand has been the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU).
People in the North and Britain who qualify for an Irish passport have done so in droves given the freedom of movement across the EU allowed to Irish passport holders compared British holders who have endured long waits in queues and having to meet other customs requirements
Dolan added: “This news comes on the back of another record breaking year with almost 128,000 applications coming from citizens in the North.
“With 50,000 of those being first-time applications, a passport office in the North just makes sense.
“Sinn Féin will continue to raise this pressing issue at all levels with the government in Dublin.
“The government must engage positively with its citizens here in the North and deliver for us.”
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