The number of British citizens applying for Irish passports has increased by more than two-thirds, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan says, attributing it in part to Brexit. “It’s reasonable to suggest that Brexit is a factor in what are record numbers of applications,” Flanagan stated on Saturday while expressing concerns on the impact of the UK’s impending pullout from the European Union, The Guardian reported.
“I think it’s also reasonable to assume that there are large numbers of people of Irish descent who now feel that they would like to remain as EU citizens in what is a changing time in relations between Ireland and the UK,” he added.
According to the report, the Irish foreign ministry announced that 51,079 people from Great Britain and Northern Ireland applied for passports in the first quarter of 2017, compared with 30,303 during the same period the previous year. It further received 250,000 passport applications from across the world in the same quarter.
Flanagan further stated, “I am very concerned about the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on our economy here in Ireland, and I am really anxious to make sure the Good Friday agreement is not disturbed.”
Under the Good Friday agreement, the 1.8 million people resident in Northern Ireland are entitled to Irish and EU citizenship. “I am saddened that the UK is leaving the EU formally, but I of course very much accept the desire and will of the majority in the UK,” added the top Irish diplomat.
Flanagan also pointed out that less than four days after the Brexit vote last June, there had been a surge in applications because of a “sense of concern.” This is while application from the UK for Irish passports climbed by 83% in the three months after the referendum.
Ireland’s foreign ministry, the report said, is hiring extra staff and has launched an online passport renewal service to handle the number of applications.