Is the Increase in Irish Passport Applications a Silver-lining of Brexit?

The number of applications for Irish passports from British residents has increased by over 30,000 since before the Brexit vote.

In 2015 there were 46,229 applications from British residents, in 2016 this number rose to 63,453 and in 2017 the number of applications received was 80,752, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“Embassy officials predict that based on this, 2018 will be the busiest year so far for Irish passport applications in the UK”, said Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond to the Irish Times.

Last year only 65,678 passports out of the 80,752 applications were issued through the Irish embassy in London, however not all passports were issued through the Irish embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs does not keep official record of the number of refusals.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that the actual number of refusals of these applications was ‘small’, with sources within the Department saying that the figure was in “the double digits”, and the 15,074 difference could be attributed to the number of online applications made.

The article states that there was also a substantial rise in applications received from those living in Northern Ireland, from 52,715 in 2015 to 67,582 in 2016, followed by another jump to 82,274 last year.

Any resident of the UK who has an Irish parent or grandparent can apply for an Irish passport, and Mr Richmond commended the emergence of UK residents connecting with their Irish roots, spotting an opportunity for a good relationship with the UK post-Brexit.

“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”, he said to the Irish Times.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have said that the rise in applications was “undoubtedly” due to Brexit worries, according to the Irish Times.

“There are also other drivers of demand, including a trend towards early renewal of passports, a growth in outbound travel, and a growing population”, the Department said.

The total number of applications for Irish passports received by the Department of Foreign Affairs rose from 190,905 in 2016 to 227,223 last year.