The number of Irish passports to be issued this year is set to pass the one million mark, driven by a ‘Brexit’ surge in applications from Britain and Northern Ireland.
This follows Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan confirming that 250,000 applications have been received for the first quarter of this year — a 26% increase on the same period last year.
The first quarter this year coincided with the British Government taking significant steps towards ‘Brexit’ and the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the number of Irish passport applications made between January and the end of March by those born in Great Britain increased by 69% to 23,181 on the corresponding period last year.
The number of passport applications for the first quarter of this year from people born in Great Britain is almost half the 48,741 to have applied for Irish passport for the whole of 2016.
Similarly, applications for Irish passports from those born in Northern Ireland increased by 68%, going from 16,581 in the first quarter of last year to 27,898.
The 27,898 applications for the first quarter of this year followed 91,448 applications from Northern Ireland-born passport applicants last year.
Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued 733,060 passports, which represented a 9% increase on 2015 and the projected 1m passport applications follows last year’s Census confirming that Ireland has a population of 4.76m.
The number of passports issued last year created a €46.74m bonanza for the department.
Last year, it cost the department €31.63m to operate the passport service. This included the employment of 233 temporary clerical officers — a rise of 62 compared to 2015. The number of full-time equivalent staff operating the passport service totals 301.
On the increase this year, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday: “The increase in application numbers is attributable to a variety of causes, including an expanding population and a significant increase in outbound travel in recent years.
“The decision by the UK to leave the EU may have also had some impact, although the department does not ask people why they are applying for a passport, only whether or not they are eligible.”
He said: “On 30 March, the minister launched a new online passport application service for adults renewing their passports. This new service will greatly assist in managing increased volumes of applications in the months and years ahead and in meeting target turnaround times.
The target turnaround time for the online service is 10 working days plus postage time.”
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