herald

Sunday 20 October 2019

85,000 people in the North and Britain apply for Irish passports in 8 months

Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesperson Niall Collins
Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesperson Niall Collins

The number of passport applications from Great Britain and the North is continuing to soar.

By the end of this year there will be four times as many first-time applicants from the UK as there were in 2015 - the last year before the Brexit referendum.

Irish passport holders will continue to benefit from EU membership after the UK leaves the union, including access to programmes like Erasmus and free healthcare.

Latest figures show that in the eight months to the end of August this year, more than 36,000 British people applied for an Irish passport, along with more than 49,000 in the North.

Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesperson Niall Collins (inset) said the figures were "a clear indication that people across the UK and Northern Ireland have realised how serious the impact of Brexit will be".

The rise began in 2016, the year UK voters went to the polls. The previous year had boasted 26,335 applications but this rose sharply to 48,168.

Now, in just eight months, the passport office has dealt with 85,517.

"That's almost double the number of applications, and there are still another four months of the year left," Mr Collins said.

Worried

"The Irish passport has always been held in high esteem, and it's becoming obvious that Brexit has compounded the demand, as people living in the UK and Northern Ireland become increasingly worried about what impact Brexit will have on their daily lives and their ability to travel.

"I expect these figures will continue to increase over the next few months as uncertainty over a potential no-deal Brexit prevails," the Limerick TD added.

Hundreds of extra staff have been taken on to process applications and deal with enquiries.

Any citizen of the North is entitled to an Irish passport under the Good Friday Agreement.

UK residents can make an application based on Irish heritage within their family.

The largest single category of applications is now online.

First-time applications from Great Britain take a minimum of 65 days.

Overall, 850,000 people applied for an Irish passport last year.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News