Brexit sends Britons seeking Irish passports up 22 per cent in 2018

An anti-Brexit activist flies a flag showing the colours of the UK and the EU outside the Houses of Parliament in London, on Dec 11, 2018.
An anti-Brexit activist flies a flag showing the colours of the UK and the EU outside the Houses of Parliament in London, on Dec 11, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

DUBLIN (REUTERS) - The number of British citizens applying for Irish passports rose by 22 per cent in 2018, Ireland's foreign office said on Monday (Dec 31), more than doubling the total number of annual applications since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Almost 100,000 eligible Britons sought to hang onto their EU citizenship via a passport from their nearest neighbour this year, up from 81,000 last year and 46,000 in 2015, the year before the Brexit vote led to a sharp rise in applications.

Anybody born in the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, or with an Irish parent or grandparent, is entitled to an Irish passport - a total of about six million British citizens. They are able to hold dual citizenship.

Registrations for Irish passports in Northern Ireland, whose citizens can hold both an Irish and British passport, as the province is part of the United Kingdom, rose by 2 per cent in the year to the end of December.

With three months left until Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, the draft divorce deal reached between both sides is floundering ahead of a planned vote in the British parliament next month, opening up a range of possibilities from a Brexit without a trade deal to calling it off entirely.