Dublin should set up a 'citizenship hub' in Derry to meet post-Brexit passport demand: Kelly

Colly Kelly.
Colly Kelly.

Sinn Féin councillor Colly Kelly has urged the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., to set up a 'citizenship hub' in Derry to meet the growing demand for Irish passports that continues in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Last year 779,000 Irish passports were issued, which was the highest number ever.

This was an increase of six per cent from 2016 (itself a record-breaking year), and an increase of over 15 per cent from 2015.

Colr. Kelly said: "According to figures published in the past week, 53,715 people in the North applied for Irish passports the year before the vote on Brexit. This increased to 67,582 in 2016, and 80,964 in 2017.

"Staff in the Passport Office have been doing a fantastic job under immense pressure as a result of Brexit. The Irish government must acknowledge that increased demand from the public warrants necessary investment to meet a clear and identifiable need.

"During his recent appearance in front of the Oireachtas Committee on the Good Friday Agreement, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile put it to Minister Simon Coveney that he explore the idea of a dedicated 'citizenship hub' located in the North. I firmly believe that the office should be located in Derry City.

"This could be a place for passport applications to be processed but also a valuable resource in assisting Irish citizens in terms of their legal rights & entitlements post-Brexit. It would also create jobs.

"Senator Ó Donnghaile has written to Minister Coveney seeking an update on his department's plans to meet this growing demand."