Ireland on course to issue one million passports in wake of Brexit

250,000 applications have been received for the first quarter of this year

Some 250,000 passport applications have been received for the first quarter of 2017. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Some 250,000 passport applications have been received for the first quarter of 2017. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The number of Irish passports to be issued this year is set to pass the one million mark driven by a surge in applications from Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the wake of the Brexit vote last June.

This follows the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan confirming that 250,000 applications have been received for the first quarter of this year - a 26 per cent increase on the same period for last year.

The number of Irish passport applications from those born in Great Britain between January and the end of March increased by 69 per cent to 23,181 on the corresponding period last year, almost half the 48,741 who applied for Irish passport for the entire of 2016.

Similarly, applications for Irish passports from those born in Northern Ireland increased by 68 per cent going from 16,581 in the first quarter of last year to 27,898 in the same period of 2017.

The 27,898 applications for the first quarter of this year followed 91,448 applications from Northern Ireland born passport applicants last year.

Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued 733,060 passports which represented a 9 per cent increase on 2015 and the projected one million passport applications follows last year’s Census confirming that Ireland has a population of 4.76 million.

The number of passports issued earned the Department of Foreign Affairs €46.74 million.

Last year, it cost the Department €31.63 million to operate the passport service. This included the Department employing 233 temporary clerical officers and this was an increase of 62 compared to 2015.

The number of full-time equivalent staff operating the passport service totals 301.

On the increase this year, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday: “The increase in application numbers is attributable to a variety of causes including an expanding population and a significant increase in outbound travel in recent years.

He added:”The decision by the UK to leave the EU may have also had some impact, although the Department does not ask people why they are applying for a passport, only whether or not they are eligible.”

On extra resources being put in to deal with the surge, the spokesman said: “The Department is working hard to put a number of measures in place, including additional staffing resources to mitigate the impact of the surge in applications.

He said: “On 30 March, the Minister launched a new Online Passport Application Service for adults renewing their passports. This new service will greatly assist in managing increased volumes of applications in the months and years ahead and in meeting target turnaround times.”

He said: “The service removes the requirement to have a form witnessed and is a fast, secure and convenient way to renew a passport. The target turnaround time for the online service is ten working days plus postage time.”