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This book contains 32 pages.

An Irish passport

"Iarann Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha na hÉireann ar gach n-aon lena mbaineann ligean dá shealbhóir seo, saoránach d'Éirinn, gabháil ar aghaidh gan bhac gan chosc agus gach cúnamh agus caomhnú is gá a thabhairt don sealbhóir."

So begins every Irish passport, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland calling on all concerned to allow the bearer free passage and safety. This plea seems to be quite effective, since even Mossad agents get away with murder when carrying the harp.

Irish people are more careless than most with their passports. This begins relatively early in life, when a passport is the only surefire way to get into a pub or club, to prove you are old enough to buy alcohol. The lack of a national ID card along the lines of France or Germany means that many teenagers carry a passport in their back pocket on a night out.

Most people have heard the story, now years old, that an Irish passport is worth 10,000 euro on the black market. This story is used to chide the young for carrying their passports around to buy cider. The following article addresses some of the reasons why this is, particularly in relation to the recent lurid news stories about Mossad assassins prowling Dubai.

Fake Irish passport photos, Mossad agents? (Irish Times)

Fake Irish passport photos, Mossad agents?

Nice and neutral: why Irish passports are a spook's best friend - Irish Times
Tom Clonan - Saturday, February 20, 2010

I would add one more reason for why an Irish passport is particularly valuable. I'm not sure if this is the case with all passports, or just those of this incompetent island, but it would seem that an Irish passport being "Cancelled" has effectively no impact on its usability as a travel document. Even if one submits the passport number for cancellation, it is perfectly possible to travel by sea or air using the passport, as long as it is still in-date. The man in the hut at Departures will scan its barcode against the red lamp, and hand it back to you with no comment.

Image from Irish Times, edited by Liam Cooke

John Burke, Irish citizen; Muhammad Omar, mujahideen

Born John Burke. Died Muhammad Omar - Irish Times
Mary Fitzgerald - Saturday, February 27, 2010

I would go so far as to describe this article as compulsory reading. The hitherto-unknown story of how a young Irishman from Clonmel, Tipperary ended up fighting against Soviet troops in the deserts of Afghanistan is captivating and depressing. His story of disillusionment and emigration is sadly typical for young Irish people, especially men, since the foundation of the State. A run-in with one of the British mosques we hear about "radicalising" second-generation British muslims led to a path that was far from typical. The fact that he was Irish makes it seem more real than these wannabe-martyrs with Liverpudlian accents. Part of me hopes that a book will be forthcoming, but I think it would be too hard on his father, grieving for his son buried far away in the stones.


  1. Aengus wrote:

    Jesus, that second article was fantastic. Thanks for posting.

    As for travelling on a cancelled passport - I'm quite certain it's impossible. If you're referring to the image of John Burke's cancelled passport,

    1 - It was 1989
    2 - I imagine it was cancelled by the Office of Foreign Affairs when they returned it to the family.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:19 am | Permalink
  2. johnl wrote:

    No, I wasn't referring to the John Burke's passport.

    If a passport is visibly physically cancelled, with a stamp or by having its corners cut off, I doubt you will manage to get through security.

    However, if you have lost a passport, and report it as such, giving the number for it to be cancelled, it seems they never actually do the cancellation or that cancellation does not work.

    The implication here is that if you lose your passport or have it stolen, whoever stole it, or bought it from them, can continue to use it, despite the claims of the Passport Office to have cancelled it.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  3. David wrote:

    I must point out that a National Age card is just as effective as a passport in the youthful procurement of cider. And with it there is no need for a National ID card for simply proving you are entitled to purchase alcohol or cigarettes.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 4:01 am | Permalink
  4. Rob H wrote:

    I think it's hilarious that you think it's outrageous that we don't have a national ID card when you also think it's outrageous that they'd expect you to carry it around with you.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  5. johnl wrote:

    I didn't say that at all.

    I am perfectly happy with my Garda Age Card, but it took me about 7 months and trips to 3 different Garda stations in order to obtain it.

    I don't think we need a national ID card, and I would be vehemently against any requirement to carry it.

    Monday, March 15, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

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