Irish passport office based in Strabane or Derry wouldn’t make any sense, a local councillor has said.
Castlederg’s Derek Hussey was speaking out after Derry City and Strabane District Council agreed to support calls for a new service.
Put forward at Thursday’s full meeting of the local authority, the motion from Sinn Féin’s Colly Kelly called for a dedicated Irish Passport Office to be established somewhere within the local district.
Speaking to his motion, Cllr Kelly said that figures published in December 2017 that showed 82,274 people in the North applied for Irish Passports in 2017, compared with a figure 53,715 in the year leading up to the Brexit vote.
Cllr Kelly then proposed that the council writes to the Irish government highlighting this increased demand and requesting the opening of a passport office within the council area.
The motion was passed by a majority vote, despite opposition from unionists.
The DUP’s Graham Warke then suggested it was “easier to get a passport that a packet of fags.”
However speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hussey said a new office on this side of the border would be difficult to rationalise.
“There has been an increase in application, that has been noted,” Cllr Hussey said.
“But you have to say that those 82,000 people still managed to put through their applications without any difficulty. Therefore, why would you need a dedicated passport office when the system is already working?
“People aren’t experiencing any difficulty in getting their passports so what’s the point?”