Data shows that applications for Irish citizenship across Britain and Northern Ireland have hiked significantly since the EU referendum of 2016. 2019 became a record-breaking year as applications hiked to almost 1 million.
Northern Ireland born applications rose dramatically. Prior to the EU referendum, only 72,241 NI born residents sought an Irish passport. Yet by 2019, this figure more than doubled as the State received up to 145,674.
As for those born in Great Britain, applicants have similarly flocked to register their rights which can be done either through marriage, civil partnership, Irish ancestry or naturalisation. The latter dictates applicants must have lived in the State for a period of time before being eligible while heritage routes must be backed-up with evidence such as family member’s birth certificates.
Figures rose from 35,859 before the EU referendum to 89,564 last year from Great Britain. This suggests that anxiety is continuing to grow in the UK over future prospects and rights once the UK has finally divorced the European Union.
Britons disgruntled with the Brexit outcome have found a new way to remain in the EU. By doing so, they have retained benefits such as Free Movement across the remaining EU members states, European health insurance and access to European funding schemes such as Erasmus+ to study or work abroad.
The move comes as the latest Henley Passport Index of 2020 positions Ireland up to seventh place in its yearly global assessment of passports. Ireland has raced ahead of both the UK and the US which have slipped down the league and shares its position with Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands and Austria due to granting visa-free travel to 185 countries. Japan bagged the top spot with 191 visa-free travel destinations and is followed by Singapore (190).
Being born on the island of Ireland is the easiest route to qualify as an Irish citizen and gain that desirable Irish passport. However, the State also allows applicants to trace through their ancestry and lodge a claim if just one grandparent was born within Ireland’s perimeters.
Other popular routes include passing ‘reckonable residence’ to seek citizenship by naturalisation. This entails residing in Ireland for some time, usually three or five years. Being married to an Irish national or in a long-term partnership can further advance any claim to citizenship.
The relaxed rules coupled with the emboldened passport suggests Ireland stands on the precipice of prosperity. Any exodus of Britons from the UK and abroad into the State, bringing with them their youth, businesses, innovation and employment prospects, will only fuel Ireland’s booming economy even further.
As the UK is set to turn its back on Europe, an ironic twist in the Brexit saga might just be that as the UK loses its financial stability and powerful stronghold on the global stage, Ireland continues to make gain after gain.