Belfast Telegraph

800,000 could apply for Irish passport - London embassy 'stretched' by demand

Almost 200,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK this year (Brian Lawless/PA)
Almost 200,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK this year (Brian Lawless/PA)

Up to 800,000 people from Britain and Northern Ireland could apply for an Irish passport in the next five years, it has been reported.

It comes as the Irish embassy in London warned it was “stretched and working under pressure” with insufficient staffing levels to meet rising number of applications.

In an Irish Times report a Freedom of Information request revealed the level of stress the London embassy for Ireland was under because of passport demand.

In 2015 the embassy received 46,000 passport applications with 91,000 in the 11 months up to last November.

It received more than 55,000 emails, including queries on technical issues when applying online for passports, failed online applications, undelivered passports and damaged passports, the documents show.

One official wrote in an email that “extensive media coverage of Brexit” is adding to the embassy’s workload and that requests from the Irish community in Britain were increasing.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs predicted 800,000 could apply for Irish passports over the next fives years with a possible 300,000 this year.

The Irish Mail on Sunday reported the ‘Brexit effect’ was likely to see the highest figures this year, but 2019 could also see 199,000 applications before a drop off in 2023.

An estimated 2.1 million people are said to be eligible for an immediate application, with 800,000 in Britain and 1.3 million in Northern Ireland.

The department’s forecast added that another 1.2 million UK-born citizens lived in other EU states and it was likely a proportion would seek an Irish passport.

The spike in demand means the department is planning new accommodation for offices in Cork and Dublin as well as hiring over 250 new staff.

This includes 20 staff who would be needed to oversee the ‘integrity’ of the passport system is upheld, as well as appeals staff for refused applications.

The Department has claimed the number refused in 2018, with the Irish Mail reporting that figures in the Dail suggested this was less than a hundred.

Just under 670,000 Irish passports were issued in 2015 before the Brexit referendum. This jumped to 822,000 in 2018 with the worst case scenario for this year given at 1.068 million.

Costs vary depending on the applicant.

The highest cost by far is for those applying for Irish citizenship through residency, marriage or both (according to the latest exchange rate for euros to sterling) at £1,051.

This is reported as £832 for citizenship, £153 application fee and £65 passport fee.

The so-called ‘Granny rule,’ for those born outside Ireland but with Irish grandparents will be £353 - £243 for foreign birth registration and £65 for a passport.

For those in applying from Northern Ireland, an application for a standard ten-year passport is £71.

Last month, it was reported that a number of post offices in Northern Ireland had run out of Irish passport application forms.

Official Passport Office figures showed more than 84,000 people from Northern Ireland made application in 2018, a 2% rise from the previous year.

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