Ireland sees spike in passport queries after Brexit

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DUBLIN, June 27 (Reuters) - 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.

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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.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: People react to a regional EU referendum result at the Leave.EU campaign's referendum party at Millbank Tower on June 23, 2016 in London, England. The United Kingdom has gone to the polls to decide whether or not the country wishes to remain within the European Union. After a hard fought campaign from both REMAIN and LEAVE the vote is too close to call. A result on the referendum is expected on Friday morning.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Paul Nuttall, member of the European parliament, center, reacts to regional European Union (EU) results being announced at the Town Hall in Manchester, U.K., on Friday, June 24, 2016. U.K. referendum results pointed toward a vote to leave the European Union after more than four decades of membership, rocking markets globally and putting a question mark over Prime Minister David Cameron's future in office. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage reacts at the Leave.EU referendum party at Millbank Tower in central London on June 24, 2016, as results indicate that it looks likely the UK will leave the European Union (EU). Top anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage said he was increasingly confident of victory in Britain's EU referendum on Friday, voicing hope that the result 'brings down' the European Union. / AFP / GEOFF CADDICK (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage (C) reacts at the Leave.EU referendum party at Millbank Tower in central London on June 24, 2016, as results indicate that it looks likely the UK will leave the European Union (EU). Top anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage said he was increasingly confident of victory in Britain's EU referendum on Friday, voicing hope that the result 'brings down' the European Union. / AFP / GEOFF CADDICK (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: People react to a regional EU referendum result at the Leave.EU campaign's referendum party at Millbank Tower on June 23, 2016 in London, England. The United Kingdom has gone to the polls to decide whether or not the country wishes to remain within the European Union. After a hard fought campaign from both REMAIN and LEAVE the vote is too close to call. A result on the referendum is expected on Friday morning.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage (L), Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (R) take part in a plenary session at the European Parliament on the outcome of the "Brexit" summit, in Brussels February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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"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.


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