Belfast Telegraph

Thousands seek Irish citizenship

More than 11,500 people proud of their heritage claimed Irish citizenship under the so-called Granny Rule last year.

Preliminary figures show thousands turned up at embassies worldwide seeking the right to call themselves Irish because of the birthplace of their grandmother or grandfather. The rule became famous during the Jack Charlton years when he used it to secure top players for the Republic of Ireland soccer team.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said the figures underlined the strong demand from the 70 million-strong global Irish family to maintain their links with their homeland.

He said: "Demand for citizenship through an Irish grandparent has spiked over the past two years, with 11,500 people putting in their claim during 2010.

"There has been an increased awareness of the rule since the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh, with more of our citizens coming forward to claim the entitlement to call themselves Irish and to have the right to a passport.

"I am keenly aware of the demands from people with an Irish background worldwide who want to forge stronger links with the land of their grandparents, great-grandparents and even further back. For those not entitled to citizenship we are now finalising the details of the certificate of Irish heritage."

Mr Martin said details on the certificate will be formally announced in the near future and he claimed it was clear people worldwide are proud to call themselves Irish.

He added: "They want their links with our country recognised and I am delighted that we are in a position to do that.

"Our communities play a huge part in bringing Irish sports, arts and culture to the world. They are also key in establishing business links in key world markets that will be central to our economic recovery."

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