Brexit has triggered a huge rush for Irish passports before the deadline for leaving Europe passes.
The government in the Republic of Ireland reports that the embassy in London has issued 176,000 passports since the referendum in June 2016 – 10 times the number of any other Irish embassy.
After Brexit, an Irish passport grants the holder the right to live, work and travel freely throughout the European Union.
Most British nationals with an Irish-born parent or grandparent is entitled to apply for the passport.
This includes Northern Irish nationals who have automatic eligibility for an Irish passport.
One in 10 Brits qualify
More than 82,000 applications were made from Northern Ireland last year – up from 54,000 in 2015.
“Since the people of the UK voted, narrowly, to leave the EU in 2016, we have seen a continuing rise in the number of applications for Irish passports in the UK,” said Neale Richmond, chairman of the Irish Senate’s Brexit committee.
“Current rules entitle those born to Irish parents or grandparents to apply for an Irish passport through a claim to citizenship.
“At least 10% of the UK’s population, not including Northern Ireland, are estimated to qualify for an Irish passport and, considering Brexit, many – including a number of my own family members – are staking their claim to an Irish passport.
“Figures released to me by the Irish Embassy in London have shown that there is no sign of this rush for Irish passports abating.
“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.”
The passport application rules in Ireland say British nationals can ask for an Irish passport or citizenship if
- They were born in the Republic or Northern Ireland before January 1, 2005
- If they were born in Ireland after that date to parents who were British or Irish citizens
- If their parents or grandparents were Irish citizens born in Ireland
Special rules apply for British nationals who have lived in Ireland for an extended time.