Shock some doctors and schools charging to sign passport forms

A TALLAGHT councillor has expressed his “shock and disappointment” at reports that some doctors and schools are charging families to sign passport forms.

In recent times, according to councillor Dermot Richardson, many people attending Tallaght Garda Station to have passport forms signed are being told that officers are unable to sign forms as they do not know the person.

doctor

This has resulted in people seeking a signature off their GP or a local school principal who, alongside elected representatives and Peace Commissioners, are authorised to sign forms.

However, according to the Sinn Fein councillor, he has learned that some GPs are charging between €35 and €60 to sign a passport form.

“Lots of residents have been in contact to have the forms signed by myself and have told me that the local doctor was looking for a fee of between €35 and €60 to have forms signed,” Cllr Richardson said.

“Most of these people are going to their GP for a medical visit but when they ask the doctor to sign the passport form, they are being charged a separate fee.

“This is a disgrace and should be stopped by doctors.

"Abuse of power"

“This is an abuse of power by these people.”

Cllr Richardson said that he has also heard of a case where a school has charged for a signature.

“I have heard reports from right across the area,” Cllr Richardson said.

“It is a relevantly new issue as it’s only recent that gardai are not signing forms unless they know you.”

He added: “I have put on my Facebook page that all of the Tallaght Sinn Fèin councillors are available to sign passport forms free.

“As a group we call on any doctors or schools to stop exploiting people looking for forms to be signed.

“Since I put the message on my Facebook page, we’ve had an influx of people coming to us – around 50 people.

“I am happy to sign forms but I believe that a system needs to be put in place, someone in the station should be able to sign [forms].”

Anybody who is renewing their passport online no longer has to attend a Garda station, only new applicants are required to attend a Garda station to have forms witnessed, signed and stamped, according to the An Garda Siochana website.

However, reports locally are suggesting that for new applicants, who are generally babies or young children getting their first passport, officers are not signing forms unless they know the family.

While officers are not signing forms, families still have to return to the station after getting the signature of a GP, principal or elected representative to get the photographs signed and stamped by a Garda, according to Cllr Richardson.

When The Echo contacted An Garda Siochana for advice on passport forms and what their role is, we were directed to the Department of Foreign and Trade’s website.

Here it states that a “Garda at your local Garda station will witness your passport application form; as long as they are satisfied as to your identity and that your four photos are a true likeness of you”.

For further information on new applications or renewing passports, and for a full list of who is eligible to be a witness and sign a passport form, visit www.dfa.ie.

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