Rush for Irish citizenship on day Article 50 signed

Passport applications also spike when Theresa May signed Brexit document

On March 28th 2016, 722 passport applications were received by the embassy. Photograph: Alan Betson

On March 28th 2016, 722 passport applications were received by the embassy. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The rush for Irish citizenship and passports in the UK reached a record high on the day that prime minister Theresa May signed the document paving the way for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that on March 28th, when the document triggering Article 50 was signed, the Irish embassy in London was inundated with passport applications.

Figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request show the Irish embassy received more than 700 applications on that day alone, leaving staff struggling to cope.

On March 21st, senior embassy official Donal O’Connell said in an email that “urgent sanction” was required from the department for paid overtime to deal with the backlog, pointing out that the embassy had “over 1,700 unopened emails requiring attention”.

‘No turning back’

On March 28th, 722 passport applications were received by the embassy and a further 578 applications were received on March 30th — the day after Mrs May declared to Westminster that there “can be no turning back” .

Demand for Irish passports from people with Irish heritage in the UK rose by 94 per cent in March of this year compared with the same month in 2016.

However, the 8,297 passports sought during March may represent only a trickle compared to when Brexit comes into force, as it has been estimated that there are are 6.7 million people in Britain and Northern Ireland who are eligible to apply for an Irish passport.