Demand for Irish passports highlights need for office in the north says Sinn Féin's Niall Ó Donnghaile
THE growing number of people in the north holding Irish passports has prompted further calls for a regional office to meet the increased demand.
The latest census, published on Thursday, showed a huge surge in the number of people in Northern Ireland holding Irish passports, with the figure rising from 375,800 in 2011 to 614,300 – an increase of 63.5 per cent. A total of 1m people held a UK passport either jointly or solely, down from 1.07m people in 2011.
Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said what he termed a "staggering" rise in the number of people holding Irish passports was a "clear indication of the need for an Irish passport office in the north".
"Figures released in the 2021 census revealed a huge rise in the number of people who have now become Irish passport holders in comparison to 10 years ago," the former Belfast lord mayor said.
"There is now a clear need for an Irish passport office in the north to help meet the rising demand for Irish passport services."
Mr Ó Donnghaile claimed Sinn Féin offices had been "inundated over recent months with people seeking help with passport applications due to the backlogs".
“It’s time for the Irish government to accept that investing in a passport office in the north to assist the huge number of applicants who live here, is common sense," he said.
"I will again write to minister Simon Coveney to highlight the importance of this office, not only to help applicants, but also take the pressure off staff."