Northern Ireland news

Irish government rules out northern passport office

The Irish government has said it has no plans to open a passport office in the north

THE Irish government has ruled out opening a passport office in the north despite another surge in applications.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney this week revealed there were almost 82,000 applications from the north last year, representing a rise of more than two-thirds over three years.

First-time applications made up around half of all requests from Northern Ireland.

Nationalist parties have called for a passport office to now be opened north of the border while Fianna Fáil has also suggested the Irish government should consider locating one in the border region.

Those seeking an Irish passport in the north can currently use a ‘passport express’ service which is operated through post offices, but fears about Brexit has contributed to a huge increase in demand in the last two years.

However, despite the latest figures, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs appeared to pour cold water in the prospect of a dedicated office.

“The Passport Service is satisfied that the existing range of service options, particularly the award-winning Online Passport Renewal Service and the Northern Ireland Passport Express service, meet the current needs of applicants applying from Northern Ireland,” she said.

“It is planned that the online passport application service will be extended to all applicants, including first time applicants and children, by 2019."

Demand for Irish passports from Britain has also risen by almost 30 percent in a year, as Brexit continues to dominate the political landscape.

Figures also show a significant increase in applications for 'citizenship by descent' from Britain, almost doubling in a year.

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