Figures obtained by the Irish Times have revealed that the number of Brits applying for Irish passports has skyrocketed by over 1,200 percent since the UK voted for Brexit in 2016. Ireland’s Foreign Ministry has announced it has issued one million passports, making up almost a fifth of its 5.1 million population. According to Dublin, more than 620,000 applicants were based in Great Britain.
So far this year 100,526 have been granted an Irish passport, with applications from Northern Ireland to Dublin having now overtaken those to London.
However, there has been some outcry over Brexit supporters applying for a passport, despite having no intention of travelling to the island.
Writer Carolyn Boyd was one of 900,000 applicants in 2019 who was eligible thanks to her Belfast-born parents.
Anyone born before 2005 with Irish grandparents can apply for an Irish passport.
The BBC estimated in 2016 that about 6.7 million UK citizens were eligible.
Ms Boyd said: “I’ve been writing about France for the past 17 years and I could see Brexit could cause problems.
“I didn’t want to be limited in the time I could spend there. I learned French because of the opportunities the EU provided me with — studying and working there — and I wanted my kids to have those opportunities too.”
While Brexit voter Emily Norfolk-Thompson felt it would be “unethical” to claim a passport, she admitted that two of her Leave-supporting friends had done just that as soon as the results of the referendum were announced.
Nicola Brady moved from Sussex to Dublin in 2007, although it is harder for her to obtain a passport as it is her great-grandfather who was Irish.
She said: “I work here, live here, pay taxes here and it’s so much harder for me to get a passport — it’d cost me thousands.
“It’s frustrating that someone who potentially voted leave can get a passport without setting foot on Irish soil, with no interest in the country, its culture or people.
“I think a lot of people in Ireland find it laughable that [the UK] created this situation and the first thing they do is try this easy fix.”