Growing support for northern passport office
THOUSANDS of people have signed an online petition calling on the Irish government to open an Irish Passport Office in the north.
The campaign, launched by Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has already attracted over 8,500 signatures from citizens across Ireland.
Last year, over 82’000 people living in the six counties made an application for an Irish passport. This is a significant increase from figures released in 2015, the year before Brexit, which saw 53,715 people in the north apply for Irish passports.
These figures demonstrate a clear need for a passport office to be located in the north, not only to meet ever increasing demand, but also to enhance service provision.
Almost one-half of the applications received in 2017 were from people applying for an Irish passport for the first-time.
The demand for Irish passports has increased in Britain and the north as a result of the June 2016 Brexit Referendum as the 26 Counties will remain within the European Union.
This is a strong indicator that many people living in the north, Britain and Europe that have Irish connections are looking for Irish passports in order to safeguard their position with for the future in a post-Brexit scenario, this also includes our unionist and loyalist neighbours.
This is not surprising when we consider the detrimental impact Brexit is having on Ireland and Irish people who wish to reaffirm and retain their Irish and EU citizenship.
It's time for the Irish government to make practical investment and infrastructural development in the north, they also a responsibility to provide better service delivery for citizens who live along the border corridor, particularly those in the north west in places such as Derry and Donegal.
We as Irish citizens, deserve access to Irish services and now is the time for the Irish government to deliver these fundamental rights.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made a public commitment that he will never again 'abandon' citizens in the north. It's time to live up to that commitment.
The online petition can be signed by following the link: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/6-county-passport-office
By Caolán McGinley