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Monday, 13 June 2016

EU Vote 'Fuelling UK Rush For Irish Passports'

There has been a big rise in Irish passport applications from England, Scotland and Wales, since the referendum campaign began.

The prospect of the UK voting to leave the European Union is thought to have fuelled the rush for Irish citizenship.

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan TD said: "We've had an unprecedented level of applications. We have in excess of 200 new staff on a temporary basis in our passport office.

"I don't have any evidence that you can forge a link between an increase in passport applications and the current referendum but I do acknowledge the factual position that there is heightened interest in Irish passport application and Irish citizenship."

Figures obtained by Sky News reveal a 25% increase in the number of applications from England, Scotland and Wales.

In the first five months of 2016, there were 1,901 applications, compared to 1,518 in the first five months of 2015, an increase of 25%.

In the month of April alone, the figure shot up from 695 last year to 987 this year, a rise of 42%.

Ireland grants citizenship to applicants who have an Irish parent, grandparent or even great-grandparent.

Grandchildren need to have been recorded in the country's foreign births register for their children to be eligible too.

People living in Northern Ireland are considered a special case, with the same right to claim Irish citizenship as those living south of the border.

No one has to state their reason but it is clear some have applied to ensure they remain citizens of the EU in the event of a British exit.

Martin O'Neill, a politics professor from York, already holds both British and Irish passports. He has applied for his children to become dual citizens.

He told Sky News: "I think we always thought that eventually it might be nice for the children to have dual citizenship as well, but the fear of Brexit and the fact that the referendum was happening really concentrated our minds to try to get that all sorted out sooner rather than later."

By David Blevins, Ireland Correspondent

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