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[Statement issued by CPSU, 19 March 2010. Apologies for the delay. It is reproduced here by way of balance to the Irish media coverage of protests against current government economic policy.]

The Civil Public and Service Union which represents lower paid clerical workers in the Civil Service says today’s (Friday) debacle at the Passport Office in Molesworth Street in Dublin was the result of appalling mismanagement. The union sympathised with the hundreds of irate clients who were encouraged, by misleading Information Advice issued by management yesterday to the media to attend the premises despite it being unfit for use because of repair work following a burst water main and the ongoing delay in the completion of passports in the context of ongoing low level industrial action.

For several weeks now the CPSU with the support of its sister unions, the PSEU and IMPACT has been staging low level action such as half day phone bans and half day public office closures each week across all Departments in the Civil Service. However because of the media statement broadcast nationally this morning several hundred clients more than on any other day attended in Molesworth Street many with the belief that the Office would be closed indefinitely from 1 pm today. The Office and routine passport processing will however resume on Monday as usual.

CPSU Deputy General Secretary, Eoin Ronayne said the blame for the situation today in the Molesworth Street Office lay with senior management who had issued the misleading statement to the media yesterday. “This office has closed its counters in the same way one day each week for the last few weeks yet today unlike the other days there was total chaos” he said, adding “it was sheer madness to scare the public into a panic when there was no need as the office will be open for business again as usual on Monday “. He confirmed that the low level action in place was now causing delays in passport production but said bringing hundreds of clients to the office to collect passports which were not ready was “dangerous and frankly, Machiavellian ”.

The Passport Office was closed on Tuesday when a water main burst on the premises but despite the union’s Health & Safety concerns re-opened in a limited fashion yesterday. Management were advised yesterday of the closure this afternoon and rather than take the sensible course of action and reduce the impact on the office and its clients it chose to invite hundreds of additional clients into an unsuitable environment and when it was fully aware that passports would not be ready for those likely to call.