TO Co Antrim man will miss out on a longed for holiday to Spain later this week as his partner’s Irish passport has not arrived in time.
Kevin Collins and his partner Susan from Glengormley were due to fly to Benalmadena this Thursday.
But Susan has been waiting for an Irish passport since early February and it still hasn’t arrived.
The holiday was originally booked for two years ago but the pandemic had forced the couple to delay their travel plans a few times.
It was pushed back to July 2021 before finally being set for May this year.
“Susan had originally booked us a trip to New York for my 50th in July 2020 but then Covid hit so we obviously couldn’t travel,” Kevin told Belfast Live.
“We then decided to book another holiday to Portugal for July 2021 but that didn’t happen either as we just missed out on some of the restrictions being lifted.
“We moved it forward again by another year and that was meant to be to Spain this Thursday,” he added.
“Unfortunately we will not be able to travel now and will have to forfeit our holiday. At this rate I might be nearly 60 before we get going away!”
Kevin and his son both already hold Irish passports and Susan also decided to apply for one earlier this year.
“I applied for a renewal for myself and my son back in January and they were back to us within a week or so. Susan had a British passport but she thought it might be easier to also have an Irish one.”
Susan sent off her online passport application on February 5 this year and the estimated issue date was April 21.
She also sent off her British passport and birth certificate as supporting documents, which were received by the Irish passport office in Dublin on February 21.
“Every time she logs on to see what progress there is it still keeps saying it’s at the final stage. Obviously as we got closer to the departure date she was panicking a bit,” Kevin said.
“The most frustrating part of it all is that you can’t get speaking to anyone to find out what’s going on. There is no communication whatsoever in terms of trying to get information or even any kind of empathy.”
Susan had also been exploring the possibility of getting an emergency British passport as it looked so unlikely her Irish one will arrive on time, but that has also been beset by problems arising from the Irish applications.
The Irish passport office also still has all her documents, which is preventing her from getting an emergency British passport.
“We also went to our travel agent on Saturday to see about moving the holiday forward by another year but we missed out as it could only be changed at least three weeks beforehand,” Kevin added.
“We paid £ 700 for this holiday which is now all gone. I just don’t understand how they can say there’s no backlog when there’s clearly something wrong with the system if we’re waiting this long.”
Holidaymakers have been urged to check their passport expiry dates before booking holidays, particularly first time applications which take longer to process.
The Department for Foreign Affairs has said while the Passport Service “is experiencing a very high volume of applications, this does not represent a backlog”.
It said applications “are all being processed in the usual way”, adding that there is “a continuous stream of new applications and a continuous dispatch of completed passports happening every day”.
DFA said that since March, the Passport Service has reduced the turnaround time for first-time passports from 40 working days to 30 working days.
Belfast Live asked why some people in Northern Ireland have been waiting more than 90 days for first time applications despite claims DFA have reduced turnaround times to 30 days for first time applications.
No response has yet been received by DFA.
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