Travel expert says 'Irish passport could help people get around' as strikes begin

A person holding a new style British passport.
Simon Caulder made the comments as passport workers begin a five-week strike over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions on Monday Credit: PA

A Travel journalist has told UTV that if possible you should get an Irish Passport.

Simon Calder made the comments as passport workers began a five-week strike over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions on Monday.

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at eight sites around the UK, including Belfast, are walking out in an escalation of the long-running row.

Picket lines were mounted on Monday outside the offices in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Belfast and Newport in Wales.

The strike has sparked a warning to holidaymakers of disruption to passport services throughout the Easter break, and other peak Bank Holiday weekends.

The union said those taking action will be supported by a strike fund.

The strikes will make it difficult for anyone wishing to get a new passport or to renew their old one.

The current processing time for new passports is 10 weeks, according to His Majesty's Passport Office.

Therefore anyone going on holiday from July onwards should be ok.

However, Simon Calder warned you should not book any travel "until you've got your document in your hand".

When asked about his best bit of advice for anyone in such a situation Simon said:

"Well if you've got an old British passport and you want a new one, apply now, but allow 10 weeks.

"Of course, if you prefer and you are able to get an Irish passport that's going to bring you many, many benefits, especially if you are travelling in the European Union."

Simon also described the current backlog as 'scary'. He said: "I calculate there was something like one million passport applications from across the UK.

"Of course the PCS union in its pursuit of a pay claim has gone for the most sensitive time when people are trying to get their papers in order for their summer holidays".

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