Northern Ireland news

Brexit effect sees Irish passports in Northern Ireland soar

Irish passport numbers have soared in Northern Ireland
Allan Preston

IRISH passport holders in Northern Ireland have increased by two-thirds, according to the latest census.

The numbers jumped from 375,800 in 2011 to 614,300 in 2021 (63.5 per cent).

This compares to a drop in the number of people holding a UK passport, either solely or jointly, down to 1 million from 1.07m in 2011.

Professor Duncan Morrow from Ulster University, said that Brexit had been “a massive shot in the foot for unionism".

“Are people attaching themselves quickly to Irishness? No, but I do think we’re in a country of minorities now,” he told BBC Talkback.

“There’s no such thing as ‘the majority’ anymore. We’ve finally got rid of that concept for the foreseeable.”

One Irish passport holder named Steve told the same programme that he was also an evangelical Protestant and an Orangeman.

“I have an Irish passport, but in the event of a border poll of course I would vote to remain part of the UK,” he said.

Having travelled through a Spanish airport recently, he said there was no visible difference in the queues and the only difference was that British passports were stamped.

“Don’t read anything into the passports about peoples’ allegiance. I’m as Irish as anybody when Ireland’s playing England on the rugby pitch. I support anybody that’s playing against England.

“I am Irish, when I go to Spain I’m Irish and when I go to England I’m Irish and I don’t have a problem with it. I have always said that I have more in common with a guy in west Belfast than I do with a cockney or a scouser.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that the number of Irish passports issued in Northern Ireland was higher than UK passports for the first time on record.

The passport office in London said that a total of 48,555 Northern Ireland residents applied for a UK passport in 2020, which was around 356 fewer than Irish passports at 48,911.

The actual figure may be even higher, as the statistics accounted for Irish passports issued through Northern Ireland Passport Express, and did not include those who applied directly from Dublin.

Northern Ireland news