Britons clamour for Irish passports as Brexit looms

There has been a sharp rise in the number of British people applying for Irish passports because of fears of a Brexit. As the Dáil debated the potential crisis, the government has developed a strategy to deal with a British exit from the EU.

Last week, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl travelled to London to visit the Irish embassy, which has seen a rise in the number of applications for passports, as the vote on June 23 approaches. The feeling is that, by having an Irish passport as well as a British one, people will not be disenfranchised by a vote to leave the EU. This is of particular concern for business people, sources have said.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl met Irish ambassador Dan Mulhall, whose team have seen a rise in workload on passport requests. Figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs show the number of British-born people applying for Irish passports on the basis of their ancestry rose sharply in the past year.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of adults born in England, Scotland or Wales applying for their first Irish passport on the basis of having an Irish-born grandparent rose more than 33%, from 379 to 507.

Applications from those with one or more Irish parent rose 11% in the same period, from 3,376 to 3,736. In the previous year, the total applying in both categories fell slightly. However, the Irish Examiner understands that, should a Brexit move ahead, there may be a greater surge in the number of applications from British nationals of Irish origin.

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