Passport cards

Ireland does not have an official mandatory ID card system. If you have a recent card issued with your PPS number (or RSI, depending on how old you are and what you are used to calling it), it will have a photograph on it as well. But it’s not an official state identity card per se.

Some time ago, Charlie Flanagan made some comments about the possible introduction of a passport card which could be used to travel on. The press release regarding that card is here, was made today.

My early adult years were spent in France, Germany and Belgium, and 9 months in the UK which doesn’t count because they don’t have an ID card system either. ¬†So I have spent time going through the process to pick up residence permits in France, Germany and Belgium. All of them required me to carry one of their official papers along with my Irish passport at all times. From the time I was 21 years old, I have carried my passport everywhere with me.

I have seen a lot of horrified looks on people’s face when they have heard this. Often the same people who were horrified when they were told to carry their driving licence everywhere they were driving.

The response has generally been of the “What if you lose it” variety.

In Ireland, people are terrified of losing their passports. I have had several friends put their passport somewhere safe, so they don’t lose it, who have also wound up having to get passports issued, often at comparatively short notice, because they’ve put them somewhere so safe, they can’t remember where that safe place was.

Charlie Flanagan is aware that we don’t have an official ID card system here, but that there is a requirement by a lot of people to produce an ID, usually, it must be said, for being allowed to buy alcohol or get into a club. He is concerned that people will lose their passports. So he has introduced this passport card on grounds of convenience.

You cannot get this passport card – which costs 35E – without already possessing an ordinary passport. It’s not clear what would happen if you lost the passport card; although already DFA in Ireland has the right not to issue you with a new one if you have a not great record in losing your passport. I really don’t understand why this card could not be issued as a separate card; there’s no obvious explanation for the requirement to already possess a passport.

But at the end of the day, perhaps it’s time we had a wider discussion around identity cards in this country and recognised that we are, de facto, introducing one courtesy of the PPS card system, already require drivers to produce identification, and, the greatest driver for this new ancillary passport card¬†appears to be youngsters being age checked in clubs, bars and off-licences.