With Irish passport applications set to hit the one million mark it’s time to open a Derry office: Kelly

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Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has reiterated his call for the establishment of a dedicated Irish Passport Office in Derry.

He made the demand as projections suggested applications for Irish Passports could exceed the one million mark for the first time ever this year.

In 2016, there were 733,060 applications for Irish Passports in total, many of which were attributed to the United Kingdom’s referendum vote to leave the European Union last June.

However, Colr. Kelly said the latest statistics showed that applications for Irish Passports are likely to surpass one million in 2017.

He described this as a significant milestone and claimed there was now an even stronger case for the opening of an Irish Passport Office in the North.

He said: “These latest statistics will come as no surprise given the pursual of an unwanted and hard Brexit by the British Government.

“The people of the North voted to remain in the EU and therefore retain their Irish and EU citizenship.

“I have no doubt that the trend on applying for Irish passports will only rise further.”

Colr. Kelly vowed that his party will continue to lobby the Dublin government on the issue.

He said there’s clear evidence of need and that Dublin needed to live up to its responsibilities to Irish citizens and prospective Irish citizens in the North.

“Sinn Féin have been making the case that the Department of Foreign Affairs, who recently employed an additional 230 staff to deal with the surge, explore urgently a business case for opening a much-needed resource where the demand is, that is the North. And I have called for an office to be opened up in Derry,” said the councillor for The Moor area.

“These statistics, which of course land right in the Irish government’s lap, show clearly they have an obligation and evidential support to make the strongest possible case for special designated status to protect Irish and EU citizens in the North as part of any deal on Brexit.”

The Irish Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Charlie Flanagan recently revealed that between January and April this year, over 250,000 applications for new passports and passport renewals were received, representing an increase of 26 per cent over the same period last year.

Speaking in the Dáil on April 12, he said: “There are a number of factors behind these increases. The decision by the UK to leave the European Union has undoubtedly had an impact but so too has an expanding population and an increase in outbound travel in recent years.”