Ireland has seen a spike in interest from British nationals seeking to gain an Irish passport and remain a citizen of the European Union after Britain voted to leave the bloc, the Irish foreign office said on Monday.
Anybody born in the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, or with an Irish parent or grandparent, is entitled to an Irish passport. Up to 6 million people living in Britain are estimated to have Irish ancestry.
Post offices in British-run Northern Ireland ran out of application forms, while Ireland’s embassy in London fielded over 4,000 passport enquiries compared to the 200 it usually receives on a normal day, a diplomatic source told Reuters.
“Following the UK referendum, there has been a spike in interest in Irish passports in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and elsewhere, although there has been some exaggeration of demand,” Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement.
“The increased interest clearly points to a sense of concern among some UK passport holders that the rights they enjoy as EU citizens are about to abruptly end.”
Flanagan warned that an unnecessary surge in applications would place significant pressure on turnaround times at passport offices and could affect those with imminent travel plans.
A member of Northern Ireland’s largest Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, called on the government in Dublin to open a passport office in Belfast after post offices ran out of forms and were unable to meet demand until more arrived.
Even pro-British lawmaker Ian Paisley Jr., the son of the firebrand preacher-politician of the same name who for decades cried “No Surrender!” to Catholic nationalists’ desire for closer ties with the Irish Republic, offered to help out.
“My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one. I sign off lots of applications for constituents,” Paisley Jr. tweeted after the referendum result on Friday.