There have been renewed calls for the establishment of a dedicated Passport Office in the North after another record-breaking year of applications by Irish citizens across Ireland and abroad.
New statistics from the Passport Office have reveal the post-Brexit referendum surge in demand for the travel document continued unabated in 2018.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a total of 822,000 passports were issued throughout 2018, the highest number ever, and a five per cent increase on 2017.
It’s the third consecutive record-breaking year for applications with demand from Irish citizens in the North and in Britain also continuing to rise.
For example, there were 84,855 (up two per cent) applications from the North and 98,544 (up 22 per cent) from Britain.
Sinn Féin Councillor Sharon Duddy said the unprecedented demand reinforced the need for the Irish Government to open a Passport Office in the North.
She said: “These record-breaking figures show that over 84,000 people in the Six Counties applied for Irish passports in 2018 - this is yet another annual increase.
“These figures can no longer be ignored. The Irish government must take the necessary steps to ensure citizens in the north are not left behind by investing in their needs.”
Colr. Duddy praised Passport Office staff and said they needed to be supported with proper resources.
“Staff, who do a fantastic job, are under major stress as a result of this increase and the infrastructure required to meet these increases must be invested in where demand is greatest,” she said.
She also predicted that demand will continue to rise as a result of ongoing certainly around Brexit
“As the chaos of Brexit deepens, more and more people are claiming their right to an Irish passport and EU citizenship. It’s important that this process runs smoothly,” said the local councillor