THE burgeoning number of people from the North applying for an Irish passport shows “a definite need” for a passport office locally.
Last week it came to light that British citizens applying for Irish passports has reached record levels amid uncertainty over Brexit.
According to the department of foreign affairs in Dublin, 200,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK this year – 84,855 from the North and 98,544 from Britain.
The figures show an increase of 2 per-cent and 22 per-cent respectively on last year’s applications.
“A precedent was set under the Good Friday Agreement once it was recognised that a person living in the North could have an Irish passport,” Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher said.
“The Irish Government should be facilitating that right, rather than have people travel to make their applications for passports.”
In April last year a motion at Derry City and Strabane District Council from Sinn Féin’s Colly Kelly called for a dedicated Irish Passport Office to be established somewhere within the local district. It was agreed that council would write to the Irish government highlighting an increased demand and requesting the opening of a passport office within the council area.
However on the back of unprecedented levels of Irish passport applications, Cllr Gallagher says the establishment of a passport office locally had never been more pertinent.
“I’d be arguing for a passport office, not in the advent of a hard border after Brexit but without a border at all,” he continued. “There is a definite need. There’s one in Cork so why shouldn’t there be one in Belfast or even Strabane?”
Legally, any person in the world born to an Irish citizen is entitled to an Irish passport while those with grandparents born in Ireland also qualify. British people living in Ireland can also qualify under residency rules.
Posted: 2:58 pm January 10, 2019