Irish passport applications surge by almost 50,000

The decision by Britain to leave the EU and the resurgence in outward tourism have contributed to an almost 50,000 increase in passport applications in the first seven months of this year, figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs show.

Up to the end of July there were 503,596 applications for Irish passports — that compares with 454,931, 10.7% less, in the same period in 2015.

The biggest year-on-year increase came in May and can most likely be put down to a surge in the numbers of people deciding to fly abroad for the summer and the Green Army on the march to support the Irish soccer team at Euro 2016.

The numbers applying for the passport in May 2016 rose to 91,056 compared with 75,016 a year earlier. That is a 16,040, or 21.4%, rise.

Ironically, July was the first month when total applications fell for the first time compared with the corresponding month in 2015.

However, in the North and in Britain, the demand for Irish passports continues to rise.

There was a 63% increase in demand for Irish passports from the North in July, as the implications of the June Brexit vote became apparent. The rise from 4,070 in July 2015 to 6,638 a year later was mirrored in Britain.

There the increase was from 4,242 to 7,321 from July to July, which equated to a 73% rise.

Earlier this week, DUP politician Ian Paisely Jr told the BBC the Irish passport, as a second passport, could be a “very convenient thing to have” for British people but added: “It is a European document with an Irish harp stuck on the front posing as a passport but it’s essentially a European document, so why would they not want to have it?”

As previously reported in this paper, the Department of Foreign Affairs had to draft in hundreds of temporary clerical workers to respond to the increased demand as well as redistributing processing work across passport offices and redeploying staff from other areas of the department.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that in the period January-June 2016, the total number of trips by Irish residents overseas increased by 220,000 compared to the same period 12 months earlier.


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