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UK citizens becoming Irish up from 41 to 665 a year as Brexit looms


Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at a citizenship ceremony

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at a citizenship ceremony

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at a citizenship ceremony

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

Only 41 people from the UK went through the naturalisation process in 2015, the year before the referendum on Britain leaving the EU took place.

However, Department of Justice statistics show that this figure leapt to 665 in 2018.

It follows the revelation that more than one in five Irish passport applications last year came from people living in Northern Ireland and Britain.


Amid continuing fears that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal, there is uncertainty over travel and other rights for UK citizens in Europe.

An Irish passport is seen as an insurance policy for all eventualities for those who can get one.

While many UK citizens are entitled to Irish passports due to Irish heritage, those with no family connections must go through the naturalisation process to become a citizen.

Applicants for naturalisation must be able to prove that they have been resident in the State for at least five of the last nine years, including one year of continuous residence immediately before the date they apply.

Of those who obtained Irish citizenship last year, UK nationals were the oldest, with an average age of 56.

In total, 10,158 people were granted Irish citizenship in 2018, according to the figures released by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The overall figure includes 3,136 children and brings to more than 120,000 the number of new citizens who have received certificates of naturalisation since the introduction of citizenship ceremonies in 2011.

"The citizenship ceremony is a powerfully symbolic event, which befits the importance and solemnity of the occasion," Mr Flanagan said.

"Each of our new citizens has an important contribution to make to all areas of our society".

Mr Flanagan added that receiving Irish citizenship does not lessen the diversity of people's backgrounds or the importance of their heritage.

"We look forward to all that they can add to the richness of our culture as part of their continued integration into our communities, right across the country," he said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May used her New Year message to urge 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 a disruptive period of political turmoil behind it.

A Westminster vote on the deal is due later this month.


Mrs May is facing opposition from Labour, from within her own Conservative party and from the DUP, which 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.

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

He argued the prime minister'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".