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Ian Paisley on Irish passports: It's a European document with an Irish harp stuck on posing as a passport

Published 08/08/2016

There's been a sharp rise in Irish passport applications
There's been a sharp rise in Irish passport applications

DUP MP Ian Paisley Junior has said he is 'very relaxed' about the rise in Irish passport applications as they are 'European documents posing as passports'.

The number of applications for the document from people in Northern Ireland has risen by more than 60% in July, compared with the same period last year.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, the North Antrim MP said: "I'm very relaxed with people if they feel they are entitled to a second passport and that it will be of some benefit to them, why would they not apply.

"For international travellers especially, it can be a very convenient thing to have.

"I have no actual objections. It is a European document with an Irish harp stuck on the front posing as a passport but it's essentially a European document, so why would they not want to have it? I don't have one but I won't discourage people if they think it is of benefit to them."

Applications for Irish passports from Northern Ireland residents hit a record figure of 6,600 in July following the Brexit decision in the UK's EU referendum.

The figure is 63% up on the same period in 2015, when the Irish passport application total reached 4,000.

And applications for Irish passports from people living in Britain also increased year on year in July, with a 73% rise being recorded.

The Irish Embassy in London and the Irish Passport Office were flooded with applications, as people who wanted to hold on to their EU citizenship in the event of the UK leaving the EU were galvanised into action by the referendum.

The figures - released by Dublin's Department of Foreign Affairs -have increased speculation as to whether the rise represents a long term change in trend, or if is merely a knee-jerk reaction following the Leave referendum result.

British people with an Irish parent, or in certain circumstances an Irish grandparent, also have an automatic right to become Irish citizens.

The Irish Foreign Affairs department has stressed that the UK remains a member of the EU for at least two more years and enjoys all the same rights as other EU citizens until that point.

The department has said: "There is no urgent need therefore for UK passport holders to look into applying for an Irish passport at this time."

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