Irish police have revealed that 86,402 Irish passports have been reported lost or stolen since the beginning of 2008. Senior police now believe that Irish passports are being targeted by criminals as the are “easy to get”.

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Martin, said that tougher penalties are needed for those who lose their passports.

He said “Individual citizens are primarily responsible for the safekeeping of their own passports. In this regard, the department is constantly urging that passports should always be kept in a secure place and that citizens take particular care of the document when travelling.

“However, passports are lost and the department strongly advises that citizens notify the Passport Service of any lost passport at the earliest opportunity.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs along with the police in Ireland are in the middle of carrying out a massive investigation into the security of Irish passports following a series of high-profile diplomatic incidents which involved the use of Irish passports.

Most recently Russian spies based in the United States were found to be using Irish passports to the travel from Europe into Russia. Also Irish passports were used in the killing of a leading Hamas official in Dubai.

The figures released show that since 2008 74,000 Irish passports were lost while 12,000 were reported stolen.