Advertisement
News

Fact/Fiction: Do 10% of Brits really qualify for an Irish passport?

Old news, truthfully retold. This week we delve into the facts behind Neale Richmond, chair of the Irish Seanad’s Brexit Committee’s claim that 10 per cent of Brits qualify for an Irish passport

How it was told

Since the UK voted Leave in 2016, it has been widely reported that the desire to secure an EU-opening Brexit-beating Irish passport has risen sharply.

Last week, figures were provided.

Neale Richmond, chair of the Irish Seanad’s Brexit Committee, said: “At least 10 per cent of the UK’s population, not including Northern Ireland, are estimated to qualify for an Irish passport and in light of Brexit, many are staking their claim to an Irish passport.

“Figures released to me by the Irish embassy in London have shown that there is no sign of this rush for Irish passports abating.”

The figures revealed 44,962 UK applications for an Irish passport – excluding from people born in Northern Ireland – in the first half of 2018. This is during the period Theresa May dithered over Brexit negotiations, hindered by the elephant in the room – the Irish border. That number is almost the same as for the entirety of 2015 – a year before the EU referendum – when there were 46,229 applications. The story went viral and the 10 per cent figure was widely repeated.

Facts. Checked.

Richmond’s claim that 10 per centof the UK’s population would qualify for an Irish passport translates to around 6.6 million people. That’s roughly equivalent to the 6.65 million population on the island of Ireland.

Advertisement
Advertisement

It’s a statistic that is virtually impossible to prove.

To qualify for an Irish passport while living outside the country, you have to have an Irish-born parent or an Irish-born grandparent (born anywhere on the island). So to find out how many would qualify you would have to calculate how many second and later-generation Irish people there are out of the 64.1 million people who live in the rest of Britain (not Northern Ireland). After years of emigration over the Irish Sea, even the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs admits that “estimates vary”.

It is easy to see why the passport is coveted by Brits, offering the right to freely work and study in other EU countries that may be lost in the final Brexit outcome. Currently, the Irish passport ranks as the sixth best in the world but sits behind the UK passport, which offers visa-free entry to 186 countries. However, if EU members were to change entry requirements for British citizens, it would fall down the list.

Freedom of movement and potentially shorter travel queues abroad aren’t the only benefits. The passport also ensures diplomatic support if you are injured, detained or lose your passport while abroad.

Meanwhile, Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, found that Brits made up the largest relative increase of applications granted for citizenship in the EU after Brexit. A total of 2,478 Britons were granted citizenship in an EU country in 2015, a year later that figure more than doubled to 6,555 people.

Fact-checking organisation Full Fact’s analysis of the data found that Germany granted 40 per cent of those citizenships. Sweden was second at 15 per cent, and the Netherlands accounted for 10 per cent.

However, it was a still a fraction of the number of citizenships granted by EU states in 2016, with nearly one million people taking up citizenship – 87 per cent of them were from a non-EU country.

With thanks to fullfact.org

Worth repeating

Illustration: Miles Cole

If you can’t find a vendor near you head to The Big Issue Shop for your copy of this week’s magazine.

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
I do...nate: Couple use wedding to raise £1,500 for Big Issue
Big Issue

I do...nate: Couple use wedding to raise £1,500 for Big Issue

Oil giants Shell and BP have been handed £700m of taxpayer cash despite bumper profits
Energy crisis

Oil giants Shell and BP have been handed £700m of taxpayer cash despite bumper profits

'What a load of bull': Martin Lewis rubbishes claims government can't act on energy bills crisis
Energy bills

'What a load of bull': Martin Lewis rubbishes claims government can't act on energy bills crisis

Four reasons why net zero is a solution - not a problem - for the energy crisis
Net zero

Four reasons why net zero is a solution - not a problem - for the energy crisis

Most Popular

Read All
All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays
1.

All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights
2.

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?
3.

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits
4.

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits

Keep up to date with the Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.