Brexit: Irish passport office needed in Belfast, says Sinn Fein
A former Lord Mayor of Belfast has called for an Irish passport office to be opened in Northern Ireland.
There are currently 65,916 Irish passport applications outstanding as the Dublin office struggles to cope with the massive rise in demand in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
More than 10,000 are from this side of the border, says the Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs.
Last year saw a 33% increase (33,008) in applications received from Northern Ireland and Britain, thejournal.ie reported.
Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile, now a Senator in Dublin, called for the Irish Government to set up a passport office here.
"Today's figures are startling but not entirely surprising, when we consider the detrimental impact Brexit is having on Ireland and Irish people who wish to reaffirm and retain their Irish and EU citizenship," the former Belfast councillor said.
"The figures released to thejournal.ie show yet again the upward trend in passport applications, which I and others have been flagging to Government since the vote on Brexit took place last June.
"Given the fact that over 10,000 of the current applications awaiting processing are coming from the North, it makes absolute sense for the minister to look at my long-standing appeal to his predecessor, that his department open a dedicated passport office facility in the North.
"This can meet the demand there as well as act as a further support for the applications coming from the rest of Ireland and Britain."
Mr O Donnghaile is now seeking a meeting with the new Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney to discuss this matter.