Brexit has caused a surge in applications for Irish passports, with more than half a million already this year

Irish passport

Over half a million people have already applied for new Irish passports this year, according to new figures released by the Irish foreign ministry.

More than 500,000 Irish passports were issued between January and June, with about 100,000 going to residents of Britain and Northern Ireland.

That compares to an average of 643,788 applications per year for the years between 2012 and 2015 and the 733,000 issued last year.

The surge in demand, which has caused Irish agencies to recruit more staff, was prompted by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, and applications for the month of January rose more than 33% between 2016 and 2017.

Although most new passports are going to existing Irish citizens — who are either renewing their documentation or applying for the first time — in the first half of 2017, 45,000 citizens living in Britain and 53,500 living in Northern Ireland applied for passports.

The busiest day for the Irish passport office in London was reportedly March 28th, the day before Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which formally kick-started the process of officially leaving the EU.

Ireland’s population is roughly 4.6 million, but anyone with a grandparent born in Ireland may apply for a passport. Those born in Ireland, or whose parents were born in Ireland, are automatically entitled to citizenship.

First few months of the year applications were up 70% compared to 2016, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, Dan Mulhall, told the BBC’s Today Programme in May.