Belfast Telegraph

Wilson tells constituents to apply for Irish passport if they need document in a hurry

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

By Eimear McGovern

Sammy Wilson has said that he advises constituents who have left it too late to get a British passport for their holiday to apply for an Irish one instead.

The DUP MP was speaking after new figures revealed that the number of British passports issued in Northern Ireland has been declining over the past four years - and dropped significantly in the year after Brexit.

Some 129,550 British passports were issued by the UK passport office for people living in Northern Ireland in 2015, according to official figures.

In 2016, the number dropped slightly to 128,759. In 2017, the number fell to 121,858 and again in 2018, down to 119,298. The figures were obtained by the Irish Times after a Freedom of Information request.

In the same period, there has been a significant rise in the issuing of Irish passports to citizens living in Northern Ireland.

In 2015, some 53,715 Irish passports were issued through Northern Ireland Passport Express. That figure rose to 67,582 in 2016 and to 82,274 in 2017. It increased again in 2018 to 84,855.

Those figures do not include Irish citizens in Northern Ireland who apply for their passports from Dublin.

The DUP's Brexit spokesman Mr Wilson said the figures don't "particularly" concern him. "There could be a lot of reasons behind it, but nothing that would give any cause for alarm," he said.

"The Irish passport comes through a heck of a deal faster than a British passport, so you may well find that a lot of people, like myself, leave things to the last minute and their passport is nearly expired.

"If somebody asked me for advice, saying they're going on their holidays in the middle of September, should they apply for a British or Irish passport, I'll tell them: 'If you want to go on your holidays, you best apply for an Irish passport rather than a British passport'."

However, he said he doesn't have an Irish passport and wouldn't be applying for one.

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