€200k overtime bill to cope with record passport demands
The Department of Foreign Affairs has spent nearly €200,000 on overtime this year to help cope with the surge in demand for passports.
Last year the Department issued 733,060 passports.
For the first five months of this year, it has issued more than half the 2016 number, with 374,923 to date.
In a written Dail reply to Labour TD Brendan Ryan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said that from January 1 until the end of April, the total cost of overtime in the Department's passport section was €196,912.
The spend for all of 2016 was €392,000.
In 2015 the total overtime bill was €233,000; in 2014 it was €261,000; in 2013 the figure was €87,000.
The increase in demand for passports last year provided a €46.9m windfall for the State .
In addition to the overtime, Mr Flanagan said that since January, 230 temporary clerical officers have been assigned to the Passport Service and app- ointed to the Passport Offices in Balbriggan, Dublin's Mount Street and Cork.
Pay for these officers ranges from €438.46 to €734.78 a week.
"A number of additional permanent clerical officers from within the department have also been assigned to the Passport Service in response to the exceptionally high volumes of applications received this year," said Mr Flanagan.
"These measures have contributed to bringing the average turnaround time for Passport Express renewals back in line with the target of 15 working days, as of the week ending 26 May.
"First-time applications and applications to replace lost, stolen or damaged passports take longer due to additional security checks and are currently two working days over target, with an average turnaround time of 22 working days.
"As take-up of the online passport application service increases, it will considerably enhance overall passport processing capacity and contribute to reducing turnaround times for all channels."
Applications for Irish passports from people in Britain are up by 70pc this year following the Brexit vote.
A standard 10-year passport applied for online costs €80.