Demand for birth certificates for Irish passport applications soar
THE demand for Irish passports has reached such a high level that it is affecting the operation of Northern Ireland's General Register Office, which handles the documents for all births, deaths and marriages.
Research work at the Belfast office has been suspended in recent weeks such has been the demand for birth certificates by people applying for Irish passport in the wake of the UK vote to leave the EU.
A spokesperson for the General Register Office, based at Oxford House in Chichester Street, said the search room in the office had been unable to take bookings.
"Due to a high demand for birth certificates, in recent weeks, the General Register Office search room in Oxford House has not been taking any new bookings in order to allow GRO staff to deal with the volume of orders. During this time, the online facility for searching records, GENI, was available to the public as usual," a spokesman said.
However, the spokesman added that from today "the search room will be accepting bookings as normal".
The facility is used mainly by historians, researches and people investigating their ancestry.
The General Register Office keeps all certificates of births, marriages and deaths in Northern Ireland since 1864, and all certificates of non-Roman Catholic marriages in Northern Ireland since 1845.
In the wake of the unexpected Brexit vote on June 23 there has been a surge of interest in Irish passport applications in the north and Britain with post offices across Northern Ireland running out of forms in the days following the result.
Last month the Irish Passport office saw an overall rise of 11 percent in the number of passport applications compared to the same period last year.
In June 2016 there was 7,045 applications from Northern Ireland and 5,719 applications from Great Britain. These represent increases of 9.5 percent and over 20 percent, respectively, compared to the same month in 2015.
The surge in applications prompted former Belfast Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile to call for an Irish passport office to be based on this side of the border.
Following the EU referendum vote Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan warned people to ease off rushing to get Irish passports.
Mr Flanagan said an "unnecessary surge" was threatening to have a significant impact on the passport service and could hit those who urgently need one.