Question No. 114
Parliamentary Question – Oireachtas
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details of alternative methods of identity verification which could release hardworking Gardaí from this administrative duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Anthony Lawlor.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015.
Ref No: 37839/15
The 2008 Passports Act provides that I as Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied as to the identity of each applicant before a passport is issued. This serves to maintain the good reputation and integrity of the Irish passport worldwide which in turn protects Irish citizens as they travel abroad. The witnessing of applications by An Garda Síochána in the state has been a vital element of this identity verification and in combatting fraud.
However, there has been a significant increase in passport applications in recent years, from 250,000 in 1995 to over 630,000 last year. Recognising the additional workload that this has put on An Garda Síochána, the Passport Service is reviewing the witnessing process. The process used to apply for a Passport Card is serving as a pilot for an online application form.
The review of the Garda witnessing requirement for adults renewing their passports will be in tandem with the introduction of a number of new identity verification and anti-fraud measures. These include increased reliance on the public services card as the core identity verification mechanism for all passport applicants in the state.