Charles Flanagan, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, has predicted that Irish passport applications from Britain will continue to increase next year.
Applications spiked following the result of the EU referendum, with numbers up by 17,300 in the three months after June when compared with the same period in 2015. With uncertainty surrounding Britain’s relationship with the European Union following its decision to Brexit, thousands of people looked into the possibility of obtaining an Irish travel document.
Government officials were forced to appeal for calm in the wake of the result, with the passport office flooded with requests and post offices running out of application forms. The passport service had to hire temporary staff – many of whom have recently had their contracts recently extended – to deal with the surge in applications.
One in four people in Britain is said to have Irish heritage and anyone born on the island of Ireland or whose parents are Irish automatically qualifies for citizenship.
Mr Flanagan believes the demand will be sustained in 2017, adding that there was also an increasing number of Irish people seeking passports to travel abroad.
“Passport applications from Britain for the period January to September this year are up 40 per cent compared to the previous year, surging from July onwards; with demand in August 2016 being almost 120 per cent higher than the same month last year,” he said. “Based on current trends, we estimate an overall increase in passport applications this year of between 12 and 14 per cent – or 100,000 additional applications. Next year, we project a further significant increase.”