UK demand for Irish passports surges as Brexit nears

Pedro Gonçalves
UK demand for Irish passports surges as Brexit nears

The number of British residents applying for Irish passports has nearly doubled since the EU referendum as people secure the right to move and work freely in the bloc after Brexit.

The country’s embassy in London received 44,900 applications from January to June, putting this year on course to be the busiest so far of the post-Brexit rush.

In 2015, the year before the Brexit vote, more than 46,000 applications were lodged from Britain, excluding Northern Ireland. By the end of 2017 that number had nearly doubled to 81,000.

Details of the surge came as the immigration minister warned that Britons travelling in Europe could face long delays in airport queues if there is a no-deal Brexit.

People with Irish parents or grandparents are entitled to apply for an Irish passport. Officials are now expecting 2018 to be the busiest year so far for Irish passport applications in the UK.

“At least 10% of the UK’s population, not including Northern Ireland, are estimated to qualify for an Irish passport and in light of Brexit, many including a number of my own family members are staking their claim to an Irish passport,” Neale Richmond, chair of the Irish Senate’s Brexit committee.

“Figures released to me by the Irish embassy in London have shown that there is no sign of this rush for Irish passports abating,” he added.

“While many in the UK are concerned with the looming disaster of Brexit, we must seize the positives from this new wave of people reconnecting with their Irish heritage, our post-Brexit UK-Irish relations can be built on a strong, connected, diaspora.”

London’s Irish embassy has issued more than 176,000 since 2016 – more than 10 times that of any other office.

Each application for a standard 10-year passport costs €80 (£71).

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