British applications for Irish passports hit new record

Number of Irish passports issued in Britain is set to double this year, the increase in passports follows the surge for Irish passports that took place soon after the Brexit vote last year.

Number of British passports being issued in UK doubles from 2016
The rush of applications for Irish passports since the UK voted to leave the European Union shows no sign of abating, Ireland’s ambassador in London has revealed.

Irish passports issued in Britain set to double

Dan Mullhall told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Friday that the number of Irish passports issued in Britain was set to double this year, compared to the last full year before the referendum in June 2016, which resulted in a vote to leave the European Union.The ambassador said that, over the years leading up to the referendum, applications from Britons had been static but, during the latter half of 2017, they had increased by 40 per cent after it became clear the UK would leave the EU, while the Irish Republic would remain a member.“So far this year, we’ve seen another significant increase and it looks like as if we’re going to be close to doubling the number of passports this year compared with 2015, which was the last pre-Brexit year,” Mr Mulhall added.Aside from two million-plus Irish citizens currently resident in Britain, another three million Britons are believed to be eligible to apply because they had at least one Irish parent or grandparent. Additionally, about 1.3 million people living in Northern Ireland are also entitled to an Irish passport.
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Mr Mulhall said that, around the world, more than half a million passports had been issued in the first half of 2017. “That’s an extraordinary number of passports, well up on our previous numbers, which means that people around the world – many of them may be British people living in Europe, living elsewhere, with Irish connections – are looking for Irish passports in order to safeguard their position for the future,” he said.Mr Mulhall also said that, ideally, the Republic would like the UK to remain within the EU customs union. “I think people are now beginning to realise the complexities of leaving the European Union, and there’s a debate developing here,” he said.“We’re making our position clear, which would be ideally we would wish Britain to remain in the European Union – that’s not going to happen. We would like Britain to remain in the single market (but) that may not happen.“But we think putting forward our view that remaining in the customs union would resolve many of these issues on the border of the isle of Ireland, that seems to us to be a practical solution.”

Potential effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland

The ambassador’s comments came as Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made his first visit to Belfast since taking office and warned that all aspects of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by Brexit.In a speech at Queen’s University, Mr Varadkar said, “The challenge of our generation is Brexit. The Brexit negotiations are well under way in Brussels. And, to quote Michel Barnier, the clock is ticking.“Every single aspect of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by the outcome, jobs and the economy, the border, citizens’ rights, cross border workers, travel, trade, agriculture, energy, fisheries, aviation, EU funding, tourism, public services, the list goes on.“For our part, the Irish government will discharge our responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. We will do all we can, in Brussels, in London and in Dublin, to achieve the best outcome for everyone on this island to protect our peace, our freedom, our rights, and our prosperity.”
Read David Sapsted's article on Establishing Right to Remain – which discusses the uncertainty over immigration which the UK faces following Brexit – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.

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