Demand for Irish passports reaches record high in 2016

Brexit just one factor, says Flanagan as 740,000 applications made in 12 months

Anyone born on the island of Ireland or whose parents are Irish automatically qualifies for citizenship. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Anyone born on the island of Ireland or whose parents are Irish automatically qualifies for citizenship. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Demand for Irish passports soared this year to a record high, with the Brexit vote just one of several contributory factors, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In total, 740,000 passports were sought in the year to December 21st.

Some 65,136 of those were from citizens in Northern Ireland and another 59,377 from people in Britain with Irish roots.

“It’s been a very busy and challenging year for the passport office, but I’m pleased to say that they’ve met all challenges presented to them,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

“There was increased demand for a variety of reasons – the Euros, the Olympics, and I acknowledge that Brexit may have played a significant role. I do stress, however, that we don’t know for certain, as we don’t ask people why they want a passport, merely whether or not they’re eligible for one.”

Brexit factor

Brexit was widely seen as a driver of demand in the weeks and months after the June referendum with the number of new applicants in that time up 17,300 compared with the same period in 2015.

Other statistics show significant fluctuations at different times in other years.

The passport office’s figures for 2016 showed that May was the busiest month, as 96,356 applications came in. There were also surges in August, October and November.

Appeal for calm

Diplomatic staff in Dublin were forced to issue an appeal for calm in the days following the Brexit vote after post offices ran out of Irish passport application forms because of an initial surge.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also said the introduction of a passport-sized card this year, accepted in 31 countries, was also a big success with 25,000 people now carrying them.

But Mr Flanagan said: “One anomaly is that some 75 per cent of the take-up for the passport card is male.

“So we’d like to see more women, and more people in general availing of that. Finally, our DFA travel wise app has also been a huge success – downloaded by nearly 10,000 people.” –(PA)

*This article was amended at 4pm on Thursday, December 29th