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Passports, Industrial Action and Constitutional Rights

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs today, Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter T.D. suggested that recent industrial action by public service workers in the passport office may be breaching constitutional rights.

The industrial action in question has caused a backlog of over 40,000 passport applications and citizens are currently experiencing long delays in acquiring their passports. As noted by Deputy Shatter, the right of Irish citizens to travel abroad and to obtain a passport (subject to meeting the relevant requirements) was established as constitutional in nature by the Irish courts in the 1970s. In State (M) v A.G. [1979] IR 73, it was held by the High Court that Irish citizens have an unenumerated constitutional right to a passport (with certain conditions applying and other restrictions of a legal nature operating).  That particular case dealt with s.40 of the Adoption Act, 1952 which forbade the removal of certain categories of children from the State and made no allowances for exceptions to that rule.  This was found to be a breach of the recognised constitutional rights. Read more…

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