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On the rise More Irish than UK passports issued in Northern Ireland for first time ever

Many experts have previously cited the Brexit vote as coinciding with a general increase in Irish passport applications from NI


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More Irish passports than UK documents have been issued in Northern Ireland for the first time ever, according to official passport figures from 2020.

According to a Freedom of Information request seen by the Irish Times, 48,555 people applied for a UK passport that year, which was 356 less than the 48,911 who applied for an Irish document.

The figures were provided by Her Majesty’s Passport Office in London, with figures on Irish applications in NI also only including those issued through the Northern Ireland Passport Express service and not those applying directly from Dublin.

Many experts have previously cited the Brexit vote in 2016 as coinciding with a general increase in Irish passport applications from Northern Ireland.

In 2019, more than 94,000 first-time applications were received from people born in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

While the figures from 2021 show UK passport applications did return above Irish applications, with 63,774 compared to 56,709 respectively – data for 2022 so far shows an average of 198 UK passport applications were processed in January, with more than double (419) those processed during January and February for Irish passports.

A person outside of Ireland is entitled to an Irish passport if their parent was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen at the time of that person’s birth, or if they had an Irish-born grandparent who was an Irish citizen at the time of their birth.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, both London and Dublin recognise the right of citizens born in Northern Ireland to identify as either Irish, British or both, with dual citizenship rules allowing applications for both passports.

Last month, figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Republic show more than a third of Northern Ireland’s population hold an Irish passport.

Statistics for the decade from 2012 to 2022, show 660,427 Irish passports have been issued in NI, about 35% of the 1.8 million population.

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