5,000 children born abroad now Irish
ALMOST 5,000 children born and living abroad were registered as Irish citizens last year.
The figures, contained in a briefing document prepared for new Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, reflect the huge scale of emigration in recent years.
The majority of the applications for Irish citizenship were received through embassies and consulates in the most popular emigration destinations, such as the US, Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
The figures relate to applications for citizenship through the foreign birth registration process operated by the department.
Under the process, a citizenship application can be made on behalf of any person born abroad as long as they have an Irish grandparent or a parent who was deemed to be an Irish citizen prior to the applicant being born.
The scale of recent emigration has increased the workload of the section of the department handling such applications.
In the briefing note, officials said they also had to authenticate more than 57,000 Irish documents, such as education certificates, legal records and company filings, all of which were being presented to authorities abroad.
These were required in many cases to secure employment or for property or commercial transactions.
Officials said they were trying to maintain a one-day turnaround for the majority of authentication requests.
The section also issued around 3,000 letters of freedom, which are required by Irish people marrying abroad so they can prove they are not married already in Ireland.
Most of these were required for marriages in Italy, Spain, Germany, Malta and Scotland.
There was a 12pc increase in the number of Irish marriages abroad between 2012 and 2013.
The volume of work being done by consular officials is expected to grow in the coming years as the new Irish diaspora puts down roots.
According to CSO figures, almost 400,000 people emigrated from Ireland between 2009 and last year. Some 89,000 of these left in the year up to April 2013.
Among the biggest emigration surges in recent years has been towards Canada which issued almost 6,700 temporary work permits and another 900 permanent visas to Irish people during 2012. Meanwhile, more than 20,300 work permits were issued to Irish people by the US the same year.