A very popular travel document
By Evan Short
The looming fear of Brexit and what it will mean for travel to the European Union has seen members of the Irish Diaspora based in Britain rush for passports with applications up almost one third from last year.
According to new figures, 81,287 people with Irish heritage have applied for Irish passports in 2017.
That increase has also been seen in the North with 80,964 people applying for the document. That is a 12.4 percent increase on last year.
The figures were released by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney after Fianna Fáil TD Daragh O’Brien asked about the increases.
Anyone born on the island of Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship and the huge increase in applications is thoughts to be increasing numbers of moderate unionists who fear being cut off from Europe when the UK finally leaves the EU.
DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr., who supports Brexit, has actually encouraged his constituents to apply for the documents and said he would be happy to sign application for them.
He wrote on Twitter: “My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one. I sign off lots of applications for constituents,” he said.
"My advice is to take as many as you can especially if you travel to different world trouble zones."
In a bid to speed up the process renewing a passport the Department for Foreign Affairs introduced a new online system nine months ago, and as of November over 100,000 applications had been dealt with.
Brexit is expected to increase the number of people holding Irish passports by one million.
Last year 733,060 were issued – 461,911 of them to adults.
In 2016, outside of Ireland, the Irish Consulate in New York had the highest demand for passports, issuing 7.205.
After that the Irish embassy in Canberra, Australia, issued the most.
Running third was the consulate in San Francisco followed by the consulate in Sydney.