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More UK nationals getting Irish citizenship over Brexit

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Theresa May has a fight on her hands to get her deal approved. Photo: REUTERS

Theresa May has a fight on her hands to get her deal approved. Photo: REUTERS

REUTERS

Theresa May has a fight on her hands to get her deal approved. Photo: REUTERS

The number of UK nationals securing Irish citizenship has jumped since the Brexit vote, new figures have revealed.

A total of 665 people from the UK went through the naturalisation process in 2018.

That is up from only 41 in 2015, the year before the 2016 referendum.

The latest Department of Justice figures come as Brexit dominated the New Year messages of politicians in the UK.

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged MPs to back her Brexit deal in the House of Commons.

She said passing the Withdrawal Agreement into law will allow the UK to "turn a corner" and put political turmoil behind it.

A Westminster vote on the deal is due later in the month. Mrs May is facing opposition from Labour, from within her own Conservative Party and from Northern Ireland's DUP, who she relies on to stay in power.

DUP leader Arlene Foster last night warned Mrs May that she will need to get significant changes to the Brexit deal to secure her party's support.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Mrs May's government of making a "complete mess" of Brexit.

He argued that Mrs May's efforts to get her deal through Westminster with a crunch vote were "letting people down all across the country, whether they voted leave or remain". Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said that people seeking a second referendum should "keep fighting".

The new figures on UK nationals obtaining Irish citizenship have been released after it was revealed that more than one in five passport applications last year came from people living in Northern Ireland and Britain.

There are continuing fears that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal.

Amid uncertainty over the future rights for British citizens in Europe, an Irish passport is seen as an insurance policy for all eventualities for those who can get one.

While many UK nationals are entitled to Irish passports due to family connections to Ireland, those with none must go through the naturalisation process if they want to become a citizen.

Applicants for naturalisation must be able to prove they have been resident here for at least five of the last nine years.

In total, 10,158 people of different nationalities were granted Irish citizenship in 2018 according to figures released by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. That brings to more than 120,000 the number of new Irish who have received their certificate of naturalisation since the introduction of Citizenship Ceremonies in 2011. Mr Flanagan said the ceremonies are a "powerfully symbolic event".

Irish Independent