Charlie Flanagan warns of Brexit passport surge

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has warned people to ease off rushing to get Irish passports after the Brexit vote.

He said an “unnecessary surge” is threatening to have a significant impact on the passport service and could hit those who urgently need one.

“The increased interest clearly points to a sense of concern among some UK passport holders that the rights they enjoy as EU citizens are about to abruptly end.

“I want to state clearly that this is not the case,” he said.

Mr Flanagan’s intervention follows a spike in applications in recent days as well as inquiries about moving to Ireland after last week’s shock EU referendum result.

One in four people in Britain has Irish heritage.

Anyone born on the island of Ireland or whose parents are Irish automatically qualify for citizenship.

In some cases, those who have an Irish grandparent can also apply. Post offices in the North ran out of Irish passport applications over the weekend.

Among the unlikely proponents for signing up to Irish citizenship was Ian Paisley Junior, Democratic Unionist Party MP and prominent Leave campaigner.

“My advice is if you are entitled to a second passport then take one,” he tweeted.

However, Mr Flanagan urged calm, stating UK passport holders would continue to have EU rights for the “foreseeable future” until a formal exit was negotiated.

“An unnecessary surge in applications for Irish passports will place significant pressure on the system and on turnaround times and is likely to impact those with a genuine need for passports to facilitate imminent travel plans,” he said.

“I urge those who believe they need to apply for an Irish passport immediately to enjoy free travel in the EU, to take full account of the facts before making an application,” he said.

The EU referendum result has not in any way changed the entitlement to an Irish passport for those eligible, he added.

On Friday, GoogleTrends said UK searches for “getting an Irish passport” doubled after the Brexit result came through.

Most interest was shown in the north, with the normally unionist heartland of Holywood, Co Down, taking top spot.

Charlie Flanagan warns of Brexit passport surge

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