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Hundreds of Irish opt for British passports due to industrial action

Hundreds of Irish citizens in the Republic are opting for British passports as the chaos continues at the Passport Office in Dublin.

The British embassy in Ballsbridge said it has been "inundated" with inquiries, despite the Civil Public and Services Union's promise to prioritise those with immediate travel needs.

The revelation came as hundreds of people again queued in the rain today at the Passport Office on Molesworth Street as industrial action at the office continued. Mum-of-three Shona Gillies, from Donegal, was overjoyed to discover her baby daughter Zoe is eligible for a British passport.

She said "Her father and I are both Scottish but we have been living in Ireland so long with Irish passports that we didn't even think of getting her a British one.

"She is just about to turn one and I applied for her first passport on February 5 because we are going on holiday on Friday to Tenerife. The Irish Passport Office couldn't guarantee us that it would be ready and told me it wasn't even worth my time coming back tomorrow to check.

"I ended up going back in to get her birth cert and we have an appointment with the British passport office in Belfast tomorrow morning and they said we should get sorted.

A spokesperson for the British embassy said: "We have been inundated with people desperate for a passport.

"Anyone who comes here is entitled to make an application but we have had to turn a lot of people away today who simply were not eligible.

"We are certainly a lot busier because of all of this. We have had a huge number of calls on the switchboard today with people inquiring about whether they might be eligible. There are people coming over here directly from the Irish Passport Office on Molesworth Street because they are so desperate."

However, the spokesperson warned that even those who are entitled to British citizenship may not get their passports as quickly as they would like.

"There is no express service. It takes a minimum of 10 days and we haven't and cannot guarantee that. If we can do it quicker than that for those in urgent need we will try, but we are busy enough as it is without all of the applications that have come from this," he added.

Belfast man Brendan Mullan said: "I have dual Irish and British citizenship but I'm trying to get my Irish one before I go home to Belfast tonight."

An Irish citizen is entitled to a British passport if they were born in the UK but British nationality is also transmitted to the first generation born here.

Persons born in the Republic before January 1, 1949, with a parent born in Ireland before 31 March 31, 1922, are also eligible to hold a special British passport.

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