Minister Ahern launches new Irish passport and officially opens new Passport Production Facility
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., today launched the new Irish passport when he officially opened the new passport production facility in Balbriggan.
Speaking at the official inauguration in Balbriggan, the Minister said
"I am delighted to launch the new Irish passport which is being introduced as part of a complete modernisation of the systems and processes for managing passport applications.
The new passport system will lead to an improved service to the public and better value for money.
The new Irish passport incorporates the most advanced security features and will give Ireland one of the most modern and secure passports in the world. This will provide greater security for Irish citizens when they travel abroad.
As part of the new system, passport production will be centralised in Ireland.
In this context, I am also delighted to formally open this new building here in Balbriggan which will be main production centre for the new Irish passport.
I want to congratulate all who have been involved in this complex project, including the project team and the staff of the Passport Office.
In particular, I want to thank BearingPoint Ireland, who have headed up the consortium that has designed and implemented the new system. They have given us a passport system that is one of the most advanced in the world.
This is not the end of our efforts to develop the passport service. I will shortly be proposing to the Government that we should introduce biometric passports to enable us to meet the latest security standards which are required by U.S. and emerging EU legislation.
We will also be pursuing the potential for introducing on-line passport services, in order to link into the eGovernment strategy."
Note for Editors
The new passport project began in January 2003 and is being completed on schedule.
The new system will automate many aspects of the processing of passport applications:
• A new passport application form has been introduced which will enable the application data to be scanned into the system electronically, without the need for manual data entry as at present.
• A sophisticated workflow management system will direct applications through the entitlement checking process.
• When approved, applications will be passed automatically to new machines that will personalise the passport booklets using the most advanced, laser engraving technologies.
• Passport applications submitted to Embassies and Consulates abroad will be sent electronically to Dublin where the passports will be personalised and returned to the Mission for delivery to the applicant.
• The centralisation of passport production in Ireland will enable the Passport Office to produce a highly secure passport booklet in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
A total of €26 million has been invested in the design and development of the new passport system.
The launch of the new passport today is the first step in the implementation of the new passport system. In January, the new system will be extended to the Passport Office in Molesworth Street in Dublin and after that to the Passport Office in Cork. Thereafter, the system will be rolled out to Missions abroad. The implementation process will be completed by April of next year.
98 members of the Passport Office staff are currently working in the new building in Balbriggan. This will rise to about 120 in the peak summer season.