Monday 23 October 2017

'Brexit passport rush' is putting pressure on system, warns minister

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says passport panic is 'unnecessary'
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says passport panic is 'unnecessary'
Charlie Flanagan Picture: Gerry Mooney
John Downing

John Downing

FOREIGN Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, has publicly appealed for a halt to panic passport applications following the Brexit vote.

Mr Flanagan said there has been a “spike” in passport applications by people in Britain, the North and elsewhere, amid fears they will lose their freedom to travel in the EU. He warned that these extra applications risked clogging up the system at its busiest time and causing further delays.

Mr Flanagan also utterly rejected Sinn Fein calls for a 'border poll', in the wake of last Thursday’s vote, in which Northern Ireland bucked the national trend with a majority backing 'Remain'.

He said the spike in passport applications was unnecessary and that the UK’s EU exit process will take two years – at very least – from the date upon which the formal application to leave is triggered by the London government.

“It clearly points to a concern among certain citizens of the UK that the rights they enjoy as the EU citizens are about to abruptly end,” the Minister told the Dáil.

“I want to clearly state that this is not the case,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said these applications risked clogging up the passport issuing system at its busiest time.

On Sinn Fein’s call for a 'border poll',  Mr Flanagan said the Northern Ireland majority to stay in the EU was not the same thing as a majority being ready to back the end of partition.

“Pressing for a border poll at this point in time would be neither prudent nor effective,” Mr Flanagan added.

The Minister said holding such a poll would be “divisive” coming after a prolonged period of turmoil in the North’s devolved administration.

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