Number of British people becoming Irish citizens surges

More than 10,000 people, including 3,000 children, granted Irish citizenship in 2018

People attending the citizenship ceremony at  the University of Limerick in 2017. File photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media

People attending the citizenship ceremony at the University of Limerick in 2017. File photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media

 

The number of British nationals becoming Irish citizens has increased by nearly seven-fold in the past two years, rising from from 98 in 2016 to 665 in 2018.

The latest statistics from the Department of Justice show 10,158 people, including 3,136 children, became Irish citizens this year bringing to 120,000 the total number of people to receive citizenship certificates since the ceremonies began in 2011.

Seven citizenship ceremonies were held in different locations across Ireland this year. The cost of applying for Irish citizenship is about €1,100, the second highest in the EU after Austria.

The number of UK nationals opting to become Irish citizens, and as a result retain their citizenship of the European Union ahead of Brexit, has seen a huge rise since 2015 when just 41 UK nationals obtained Irish citizenship.

The average age of UK citizens who became Irish this year was 56 compared to 32.5 for new citizens originally from Bangladesh.

Just over two thirds of the people who became Irish citizens in 2018 were aged between 25 and 45 as opposed to just 40 per cent of the general Irish population who fit into this age bracket.

Some 28 per cent of new Irish citizens in 2018 were aged between 18 and 35, slightly less than the general Irish population, while 11 per cent were aged 55 or over. Just under a third of the general Irish population is aged 55 or more.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan described the citizenship ceremony as a “powerfully symbolic event, which befits the importance and solemnity of the occasion”. He said that each new citizen had an important contribution to make to Irish society.

Meanwhile, almost 200,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK this year with the number of applications from England, Scotland and Wales increasing by more than a fifth compared to 2017.

Out of the total number of applications received this year by the Passport Service, 84,855 applications were from Northern Ireland and 98,544 applications were received from Great Britain.

There are currently more than 300,000 British nationals living in the State, according to data released by the department to Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond, the chairman of the Seanad’s special committee on Brexit earlier this year.

Mr Richmond noted in September that many UK nationals living in Ireland were applying for Irish citizenship because they were “very worried that they would find themselves high and dry” after the UK leaves the EU. – Additional reporting PA