Passport cards that will enable Irish people to travel through the European Union without bringing their full passport will be ready for issue next month.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said that the overdue cards are now completed.

Speaking in Washington DC, Mr Flanagan said he was planning to launch the cards in the next three weeks.

The cards were initially due to be launched in mid-July but were delayed due to a design issue.

At the time the department said that in order to "improve the durability of the card it was necessary to alter the polycarbonate structure of the card".

This meant they took longer to manufacture than planned.

Separately, Minister Flanagan said he was welcoming the tabling of an immigration reform bill later today by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin.

Mr Flanagan said progress on immigration reform in the US had been "particularly slow" and must be kept on the US agenda as it was an "Irish priority".

He was speaking following meetings with Republican and Democratic politicians on Capitol Hill.

Mr Sensenbrenner is in favour of constructing a large fence along the southern border of the US.

It is a view he has long held, as he previously sponsored a bill which was passed in the House in 2005 which required the building of a 1,100km double-layered fence along the border with Mexico.

The Congressman is also vehemently opposed to offering any sort of amnesty to immigrants who are in the US illegally.

The minister said that he thought the Sennsenbrenner bill "would have limited import but was nevertheless important".