Ireland issues record number of passports amid Brexit

London (AFP) –


Ireland issued a record number of passports in 2017, with nearly a fifth going to applicants in Britain and Northern Ireland, according to its foreign affairs ministry.

The Irish Republic approved a record 779,184 passports during the year, an increase of more than 6 percent on 2016 and a 15 percent spike over two years.

Dublin has previously noted a marked increased in the number of Britons with Irish ancestry applying for citizenship since last year's Brexit referendum result.

Other European Union countries have also recorded a surge in such applications from British people in the wake of the country's vote to leave the bloc, according to reports.

Outside the British Isles, New York in America and Canberra, Australia, saw the most passport requests by Irish citizens abroad.

Simon Coveney, foreign affairs minister, hailed the country's award-winning new online renewal service for handling over 100,000 of the applications.

The system, launched in March, allows Irish citizens to renew their travel documents online from anywhere in the world, anytime.

"From Cork to Costa Rica; from Meath to Mozambique; and from Sligo to Singapore - Irish citizens all over the world have availed of the option to renew their Irish passport online, with no requirement for forms, witnesses or printed photos," he said.

This year Ireland also issued more than 38,000 "passport cards", a credit card sized passport launched in 2016 which permits travel throughout much of Europe.

Dublin has called the cards a "world-first".