The Luck of the Irish Passport Is Rising in Britain

Brexit could have the British parliament looking a lot more Irish. In the three months post-referendum, more than MPs 10 and members of the House of Lords have applied for Irish passports. But this sudden scramble is not only affecting the higher-ups. Last June a slew of eager applicants in Belfast completely depleted the Central Post Office’s supply of Irish passport forms. The office was forced to post a sign in the window, politely asking for time to order more. By August passport claims at London’s Irish Embassy were reportedly up by 104%, while Northern Ireland hosted an increase of 80%. Two hundred temporary workers were even hired by Ireland’s government to combat the flood of incoming paperwork.

How the Irish Passport Stacks Up

Right now, an Irish passport holds the Individual Power Rank of 20 on our Passport Index, placing it significantly below the UK (7) and just above Canada (22). So, why the sudden surge in demand? The allure of the Irish passport is that it offers EU citizenship, granting its carrier the right to work, live, and travel freely anywhere across the European Union. With its 28 member states, this degree of mobility is highly prized.

There were public hopes that a freshly minted British passport, with European Union adorned in gold lettering at its top, would retain these privileges for the next decade. These notions were recently dashed. The UK’s Home Secretary has implied that, once Brexit takes full effect, a British passport will lose all status as an EU passport. Meaning, in the worst foreseeable case, a paid visa would be required to enter the Schengen free-travel zone. Or, at best, some online registration would be enforced before visiting.


Who Can Apply For It

Qualifying for an Irish passport is easiest through family descent. If you have an Irish parent or grandparent, then you are eligible. In fact, any global citizen with an Irish parent is by default an Irish citizen, according to Ireland’s government. Their written policy also does not discriminate between Northern Ireland and the Republic itself. Both birthplaces are equally entitled, since the island mass itself is what forms the dividing lines here.

Under these guidelines, you could guess that the amount of eligible candidates must be astounding—and it is. BBC News put forth the suggestion that 6.7 million UK residents are entitled to an Irish passport, excluding the number of people already possessing one. The BBC’s so-called conservative estimate far exceeds the actual population of the Republic of Ireland, which is a modest 4.8 million. Despite this weighty figure, Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs claims no plans to tighten up their passport qualifications anytime soon, saying their policies remain unchanged in the midst of Europe’s shifting political climate.

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