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25,000 in Ulster to get Irish passports
[December 21, 2005]

25,000 in Ulster to get Irish passports

(Newsletter)UP to 25,000 people in Northern Ireland will be issued with Irish passports this year, it emerged yesterday.

Over 40 post offices across the border will process the service.

Irish pensioners across Northern Ireland already get free passports after Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern announced a waiver scheme in August for all citizens over 65.

Mr Ahern said yesterday: "This year 25,000 people in Northern Ireland will avail of our new Automated Passport System through a network of 40 post offices.

"The 27.7 million euro (pounds 17m) system fully meets all international specifications and is widely regarded as one of the most secure in the world today."

Up to 650,000 Irish passports in total will be issued this year, resulting in 33 million euro (pounds 20m) in revenue.

The Foreign Affairs Department aims to convert all passports within 10 years from hand-written to machine-readable versions which can be scanned for biometric data such as fingerprints and eye colour.

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