Irish passport applications from North up a third to 33,000

Louth TD calls for passport office subsidiary in northeast to cope with the demand

In 2015, 25,000 people living north of the Border applied for Irish passports, up more than 12 per cent on 2014. So far this year, 15,000 people born in Britain have applied, up 103 per cent on 2015.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

In 2015, 25,000 people living north of the Border applied for Irish passports, up more than 12 per cent on 2014. So far this year, 15,000 people born in Britain have applied, up 103 per cent on 2015. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The number of people living in Northern Ireland seeking Irish passports has increased by more than a third over last year.

Figures obtained by Louth TD Declan Breathnach (Fianna Fáil) show almost 33,000 people in the North have applied so far this year for an Irish passport, an increase on 2015 of 34.6 per cent.

In 2015, 25,000 people living north of the Border applied for Irish passports, up more than 12 per cent on 2014. So far this year, 15,000 people born in Britain have applied for Irish passports, an increase of 103 per cent on 2015, which saw an increase of just 2 per cent on the numbers applying in 2014.

Mr Breathnach said the Department of Foreign Affairs should open a satellite passport office in the northeast to cope with demand. He said the increase in applications was due to fears over the consequences of Brexit, the pending UK departure from the EU.

Huge uncertainty

“People are hedging their bets,” said Mr Breathnach, who obtained the figures in a written parliamentary answer from Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan. “Hopefully there will be free movement of people after the UK leaves but you just don’t know. . . There is still huge uncertainty about when exactly Brexit will happen.”

British prime minister Theresa May says she will trigger article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the legal mechanism for starting negotiations on leaving the EU, by the end of March 2017 once the UK Supreme Court has ruled whether the UK parliament must have a say in the matter.

“Once that hurdle is crossed. . . I have asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs again if he will consider opening a satellite passport office in the northeast to deal with the high numbers of new applications,” Mr Breathnach said.

Passports are processed in Balbriggan and Mr Breathnach said a satellite office in Dundalk would be helpful to people in Northern Ireland. The largest number of Northern Ireland passport applications this year has come from Antrim (13,245), then Derry (5,563) followed by Down (5,562), Armagh (3,627), Tyrone (1,830) and Fermanagh (1,667).