DUBLIN, Ireland - Responding to the dramatic surge in demand for Irish passports post the Brexit vote, the country’s Passport Office has announced that it would be recruiting extra staff to cope with the increased work.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs has said that it has not compiled reasons for the sudden surge in applications, it said that it was reasonable to assume that the Brexit vote played a role in increasing demand from Britain and Northern Ireland.
Applications from the North rose by as much as 77 percent in January, as compared to the same month last year.
Moreover, demand from Britain was up by over 70 percent, compared to the January 2015 figure.
Authorities also added that a large number of Irish citizens travelled last summer to watch the UEFA Euro, possibly adding to the spike in applications witnessed.
Further, they believe that since a similar increase in number of applicants was witnessed ten years back, in 2006 - the increase in 2016 could be attributed to renewals sought through the year.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan said, “Early indicators in 2017 are showing that increased demand for passports is likely to be sustained, certainly in the immediate future.”
“We are in the course of delivering a major Passport Reform Programme which will ensure significant customer service improvements to benefit citizens in the near future.”
“This includes the introduction of online adult renewals which will mean a more efficient service for applicants. I expect to start rolling out this programme before the end of March this year.”
To address this increased demand, the Passport Service said it would recruit over 230 Temporary Clerical Officers.
Flanagan said, “I am carefully monitoring passport services and discussed the matter with my officials today.”
“It is vital that applicants check the validity of their passports before booking travel, apply in good time, ensure forms are correctly completed, and consult the different turnaround times for different categories of passport.”
The announcement comes as a positive one for Ireland, even though political turmoil continues to grip London over the planned Brexit negotiations.
Due to the referendum vote, there are concerns among people that U.K. passport holders will lose benefits like freedom to work anywhere in the EU, after the country’s formal exit.
Earlier this week, Brexit minister David Davis had said that he expects the government to meets its end-of-March deadline to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, formally launching U.K.’s exit from the bloc.