North passport office needed more than ever says Colin McGrath MLA
The SDLP’s Colin McGrath MLA has said the need for an Irish Passport Office in the North is needed more than ever.
The South Down MLA said: “Ever since the regrettable decision to leave the European Union in 2016 was taken, although not supported here in the North, there has been an unprecedented uptake in Irish passports.
“People recognise the important currency that this passport offers in allowing them access to the European Union.
“If anything, since 2016 we have seen an increase in appreciating the value and benefits of the EU here in the North.
“It truly is the greatest peace-building initiative in history, and as a proud Irish nationalist, I remain committed to seeing us rejoin the EU in the future, through a New Ireland.
“However, at present one of the issues my office has had to deal with in high numbers is that of the delays in getting an Irish passport and issues people encounter when waiting for their passport.”
Colin McGrath added: “There have also been issues as a result of the British Passport Office’s ‘single name policy’, which many people are still unaware of.
“This means people applying for a British passport must use their name as it appears across all identification documents.
“This creates problems particularly for those who have Irish passports.
“Unfortunately, those within the British Passport office do not always understand the nuances of life here in the North and the right people here have to dual passports.
“At this time of year particularly, I am dealing with a significant number of cases relating to Irish passports.
“I think it is unfair that people are having to travel to Dublin or Cork when an office in Belfast or elsewhere could be easily established.
“Therefore, I will be writing to Minister Martin to highlight this and see what steps the Irish government can take in the meantime to consider establishing such an office in the North.”