Irish citizenship growing in popularity

It seems more and more British and Americans are taking up Irish citizenship to be less of a terrorist target on their travels. There has been a rapid rise in British applications in the period since the July 7, 2005 London tube and bus bombings. In the first six months of this year 8,896 people born in the UK applied for an Irish passport for the first time, compared with 3,843 in the first half of 2005, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The report also says applications by American citizens have tripled in the five years since 9/11, going from 753 in 2000 to 2,659 in 2005. Among those reported to carry an Irish passport is Lt Col Tim Collins, who led the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment during the invasion of Iraq.

The numbers applying from Northern Ireland also continues to grow with 26,951 people applying by post between April 2005 and March 2006.

In 2005, a total of 36,000 people from Northern Ireland received Irish passports, compared with 32,000 in 2004 and 28,000 in 2003. The Department of Foreign Affairs now estimates over 200,000 northerners now carry an Irish passport.

SDLP MLA John Dallat has said the applications are coming from both sides of the community.

“I find that I’m increasingly signing application forms in my constituency office for members of the Protestant community,” said for East Derry. “One of the reasons is they find there’s less hassle when they’re abroad, they’re better received. It is not confined to people with moderate opinions or leaning towards a united Ireland. It’s across the board.”

  • Brian Boru

    “I find that I’m increasingly signing application forms in my constituency office for members of the Protestant community,” said for East Derry. “One of the reasons is they find there’s less hassle when they’re abroad, they’re better received. It is not confined to people with moderate opinions or leaning towards a united Ireland. It’s across the board.”

    I think this shows that being from a small neutral country will make you far fewer enemies than part of a major military power getting dragged into war for the vanity of American presidents.

  • JR

    When abroad how many Unionists, if they’re honest, say they’re Irish or Northern Irish, rather than British? I think more say they’re Irish than British.

  • JR, to be honest I’d never claim to be Irish. Northern Irish, if anything.

    On topic, am I the only one disturbed by the vast numbers of people who seem to be choosing their citizenship based on convenience?

  • Brian Boru

    Don’t see what’s so disturbing about it in this context. Except from the POV of hardline Loyalists that is who scorn anything Irish.

  • JR

    Fair play to Beano but I always hear when I’m abroad, “I’m Irish, Northern Irish.”.

  • How about people wanting the benifit of a nation without actually been willing to pay tax to that nation.

    If you are British your elected representatives went to war in Iraq. Deal with it.

  • It’s a little ambiguous about where these “American citizens” live. I presume that these numbers refer to those who live in the US, but the rising population of Americans living in Ireland has probably also led to an increase in the number of Americans opting for Irish citizenship. You don’t have to relinquish your US passport, so what’s to lose if you’re living here?

  • Brian Boru

    Another factor of course may be British/Americans of Irish parentage/grandparentage claiming Irish citizenship as they are entitled to do. Apparently the 2002 Census indicated the presence of 38,000 “Irish/English” people and 10,000 “Irish-Americans” in the country.

  • JR

    Was there a newspaper expose of a Unionist or Loyalist politicians with Irish Passports?

  • Samwise

    JR, Why would that be an exposé?

  • JR

    What some Unionist or Loyalist politician holding an Irish passport an expose, how stupid of me. DOH!!

  • Samwise

    It’s widely known Ian Paisley has an Irish passport for one, I fail to see what is so shocking about it.
    It is merely using the law which is in place for one’s benefit. If it is safer to travel on an Irish passport, why not do it?
    Are you saying only nationalists/catholics should be allowed Irish passports?

  • andy

    yes, but surely it would be tad hypocritical of somebody who strenously and publicly denies their irishness to possess an irish passport?

    It would be like saying they aren’t irish on one hand but are on the other for the sake of
    convenience.

    i am not however saying that only nationalists should possess passports

  • Samwise

    But surely it is possible to have an Irish as well as a British identity.
    Just because Northern Ireland is a part of Britain does not mean we are any less Irish than someone in Cork, in the same way as people in Scotland are Scottish and British.
    I fail to see the conflict you seem to see.

  • pith

    It is disgraceful that anyone would choose whether to have a British or Irish passport just on the issue of convenience. Surely for most decent people there are more forceful, deeply held considerations . Which one’s cheaper?

  • Dec

    Just because Northern Ireland is a part of Britain does not mean we are any less Irish than someone in Cork, in the same way as people in Scotland are Scottish and British.

    Yes, but possessing a passport that declares the bearer as being a citizen of the Republic of Ireland does seem to go one step further.

  • Samwise

    Dec, I’ve just checked my Irish passport and it does not declare me as a citizen of the ‘Republic of Ireland’, but ‘Ireland’ and nationality as ‘Irish’.
    If the Irish Government is happy to issue us with Irish passports why should we complain?
    This is not a matter of convenience. It is a matter of safety.

  • JR

    Samwise – Basically your saying your Irish when your abroad but British when your at home.

  • Samwise

    I have dual nationality so I am happy to be both

  • kensei

    “Just because Northern Ireland is a part of Britain does not mean we are any less Irish than someone in Cork, in the same way as people in Scotland are Scottish and British.
    I fail to see the conflict you seem to see.”

    Are you? Why then do you define yourself in opposition to the Irish Nation? Why do you want the Union with Britain if you are “Irish”.

    “British”, “Northern Irish” I can follow. This “I am as Irish as you” stuff while simultaneously dividing the nation and insist you are somehting else melts my head.

  • kloot

    Dec, I’ve just checked my Irish passport and it does not declare me as a citizen of the ‘Republic of Ireland’

    Thats because officially the state is called “Ireland” and not the “Republic of Ireland”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Ireland

    However on the broader point. Accepting or applying for a passport from a nation does not imply loyality does it, otherwise how would you explain dual citizenship. Therefore, Ian Paisley is not accepting a loyality to the Irish state by travelling using an Iriah passport, but it does seem a bit strange from someone who constantly declares the republic a Foreign state.

  • Samwise

    I am happy with the union in the same way in which Scottish, English and Welsh people are happy with the union. It does not take away from their identity as Scottish, English or Welsh.
    The Republic is a foreign state, something they recognise in the Good Friday Agreement – that is a totally separate issue from dual nationality. If the Irish Government is happy to issue passports to people in Northern Ireland, why turn them down when there are clear advantages?

  • Fer fecks sake

    Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, it is not a part of Britain. Big difference.

  • Brian Boru

    “I am happy with the union in the same way in which Scottish, English and Welsh people are happy with the union. It does not take away from their identity as Scottish, English or Welsh.”

    Really is that why The Times has a poll with 44% of Scots seeking independence to 42% against?

  • kensei

    “The Republic is a foreign state, something they recognise in the Good Friday Agreement”

    I don’t quite think that is what it says.

    “- that is a totally separate issue from dual nationality. If the Irish Government is happy to issue passports to people in Northern Ireland, why turn them down when there are clear advantages?”

    It’s not that I don’t understand. It is the “just as Irish as you” bit I don’t get.

  • dodrade

    I have no problem with Northern Ireland residents being able to freely obtain Irish passports, but citizens of the ROI should similarly be able to freely obtain British passports just as easily.

  • idunnomeself

    a second passport always comes in handy, if you lose one when travelling or if you need to apply for visas for more than one country at the same time

    At the end of the day they are far more than identifications of citizenship, they are our identity cards and travel documents.

    I’d urge Nationalists not to get too carried away by the fact that Unionists have an Irish passport!

  • IJP

    I’ve had the great fortune to travel widely.

    I’ve noticed, regardless of what passport you have in your pocket, if you treat people with respect, they tend to treat you with respect.

    And from general history I’ve noticed that, regardless of what passport you have in your pocket, if a bunch of fundamentalists stick a bomb under your seat you haven’t much chance.

  • Benn

    And what do the Travelers have to say about some Yank with an Irish grandparent signing up for citizenship and potentially getting the benefits of the state?

  • Occasional Commentator

    andy: “but surely it would be tad hypocritical of somebody who strenously and publicly denies their irishness to possess an irish passport? ”

    Well this doesn’t cover Paisley. Most unionists and loyalists do not deny they are Irish at all. Those who do, do so out of ignorance and nothing more. Carrying the passport of the RoI may or may not be hypocritical, but it’s got nothing to do with the Irishness of unionists.

    Samwise: “The Republic is a foreign state”

    No, it’s not (according to Westminster). The Ireland Act passed by Westminster explicitly said the Eire is not a foreign country. Although the RoI does consider the Britain to be as foreign as any other country (but the GFA may have modified this).

  • SlugFest

    I’m an American who’s been trying on and off to get dual Irish/American citizenship for a few years now (technically, i can readily get it, as all four of my grandparents were born and raised in Ireland, but i’ve yet to be able to find proof positive of either marriage taking place. along the way i’ve found out some rather interesting things about my oh-so-pious and judgmental grandmother, but that’s another story).

    My reasons for wanting Irish citizenship have nothing to do with 9/11. Rather, my primary reason for wanting it is to be a member of the EU — to work where i want without having to find a company sponsor first. The second reason is i’ve always dreamed of one day buying a small house in Ireland — not feasible right now given the cost of housing, but it’s a dream that i choose to hold on to. as i understand it, it’s far easier to buy land in Ireland if you’re a citizen, though i could be wrong.

    That said, i do admit to hiding my americaness on certain occassions when i’m in ireland — and specifically belfast. post 9/11, there’s an awful lot of animosity towards americans which i completely understand, but i still don’t see a reason for taxi drivers to verbally attack me upon finding out i’m american — this has happened more than once. having lived in Buffalo (which is on the Canadian border) for a number of years, i still have a twinge of that nasal accent. any time someone in belfast asks me if i’m canadian, i almost always say yes. sure, that makes me an awful, deceitful hypocrit, but then, i’m american … what else would you expect?

  • Harry Flashman

    Slugfest

    I don’t understand why you need your grandparents’ marriage certificates, as I understand it you qualify for Irish citizenship if one of your grandparents was born in the island of Ireland, so all you need is one of their birth certificates.

    I happen to believe the Irish need to crack down big time on this criteria, they are leaving themselves open to having to acredit citizenship to literally millions of people throughout the UK, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere who though never having set foot in Ireland can claim citizenship.

    Australia and Canada discovered that they had to rescue tens of thousands of “citizens” from Lebanon during the Summer, it turns out they were overwhelmingly Lebanese born people, living and working in Lebanon for years but who had managed to pick up second citizenship whilst temporarily residing in those countries. They had no allegiances to Canada and Australia whatsoever but kept the passports in the bedroom drawer to get themselves out of trouble when the shit hit the fan.

    Countries these days need to be much more careful and a lot less misty eyed about whom they issue passports to, they never know when they might get called in on their liability.

    Just for the record the idea that Irish people are “safer” overseas than UK citizens is bollox, just ask Brian Keenan, Kenneth Bigley or Margaret Hassan (well you can’t with the last two which rather proves my point).

  • Miss Fitz

    I think Harry is correct on that. My experience was of using my mother’s birth certificate to get an Irish passport.

    I had no choice in the matter of getting an Irish passport, while holding an American one. Once divorced, I no longer had my husbands ‘express consent’ to live in the UK/EU/NI. I was issued with a deportation certificate while travelling through Heathrow, and was given 6 weeks to regularise my situation. In this time, I went to all sorts of trouble to try and legalise my status, and in the end went for the Irish passport.

    Interestingly, when I tried to travel to NY on the Irish passport in 2002, I was denied admission to the US. Having been born there, I was required to either: a) rescind my American citizenship b) acquire an American passport and travel on that when entering the US.

    All very interesting stuff, and while there are many legends out there, I still feel more confident with my Irish passport now. A lot of this goes back to the air hi-jackings of the 1980’s, when you were asked to present your poassport and the Americans were always taken away first.

  • kensei

    “I happen to believe the Irish need to crack down big time on this criteria, they are leaving themselves open to having to acredit citizenship to literally millions of people throughout the UK, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere who though never having set foot in Ireland can claim citizenship.”

    Most of whom will never want to come here, then. I think drawing in some of the people who left back in is a good thing.

    I think most countries have this rule anyway?

  • Brian Boru

    “I happen to believe the Irish need to crack down big time on this criteria, they are leaving themselves open to having to acredit citizenship to literally millions of people throughout the UK, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere who though never having set foot in Ireland can claim citizenship.”

    I have no problem with people claiming Irish citizenship by descent. I don’t agree we need to crack down on this, as the people concerned have Irish ancestory and likely family connections here which will help them integrate and more favourably disposed towards Ireland and therefore good citizens. I do believe we need a crackdown on illegals using marriage to get citizenship though.

  • jfd

    Occassional Commentator: No, it’s not (according to Westminster). The Ireland Act passed by Westminster explicitly said the Eire is not a foreign country. Although the RoI does consider the Britain to be as foreign as any other country (but the GFA may have modified this).

    I could be wrong but didn’t GFA replace the Ireland Act?

    But on a matter of priciple: Ireland/RoI is a foriegn country in practice: note separate currency, legal, defense, foreign affairs, fiscal indpendence – and most notably a British Embassy.
    Proximity between our two states must not be confused with the de facto situation what ever the misty eyed colonial romanticism.

  • Fergus D

    I have both a UK and Irish passport. I was the only one of my family (parents, brother and sister) not born in Ireland (down the road from Holyhead- pretty close!). I decided to get an Irish passport for purely sentimental reasons. It doesn’t confer any practical advantages – as I’m an EU citizen anyway, and given the reciprocal rights between the UK and RoI Idon’t think I gain anything practical. Nothing to do with 9/11 etc. I just like it! It’s a diaspora thing.

    Now my kids want one! Again a sentimental thing. It’s a link with their granparents, Dad died recentlty, and while Mum is fit and well, she’s no spring chicken. The boys love Ireland. They need citizenship first as they are claiming through grandparents. Quite costly. And sloowwww – blimey, I sent all the docs they could possibly need months ago. Then they can apply for passports. Good news for the Irish exchequer!

    Don’t worry folks – we’re not going to swamp the native-born. Although I wouldn’t be surprised on the boys living and working there. And heck -there’s a few clan castles in Donegal I wouldn’t mind having!

  • DK

    From the Northern Ireland point of view, it must be pointed out that the Irish passport is cheaper than the British one. That is certainly a factor for a large swathe of people who are not as committed to the border question as many of our lovely politicians (and commentators!)

  • rafa benitez

    You definitly don’t get as much hassle being Irish abroad, and that was even before 9/11. Most places I went to would look at you suspiciously remarking ‘British’? Once you tell them you’re Irish, they calm down and relax. I’ve seen a group of Welsh lads do the same!
    One time a few friends of mine were in Prauge when a group of yobs surrounded them, thinking they were British. When my friends corrected them, the yobs threw their arms around them, and escorted them to the nearest pub where they all sang ‘the fields of Athenry’!

  • andy

    Miss FItz
    My sympathies on your tribulations – I had an Australian girlfriend who had similar problems. She was living in the UK for a few years (under 10) on an Irish passport and when she tried to move back to Australia she was told she was no longer considered an Australian and had to re-apply for citizenship! (naturally at a price).

    Occasional Commentator.
    Interesting you mention that. When I was writing my initial comment I remembered that Paisley was on record as describing himself as Irish (presumably as well as British) so I didn’t mention him by name. I thought that he was fairly exceptional in this regard – open to correction though.

  • pith

    rafa benitez,

    Wow! Did that Prague thing really happen? It sounds more like a top international movie.

  • Mayoman

    You may be cynical pith, but a few years ago in Barcelona, a taxi driver refused to pick me and my gf up (both of us were very, very drunk at the time)quoting his bad experiences ferrying around ‘british’ tourists. One flash of the old Irish passport, and we were in the back of the cab quicker than a DUPer into the UVF!

  • SlugFest

    Harry Flashman,

    “I don’t understand why you need your grandparents’ marriage certificates, as I understand it you qualify for Irish citizenship if one of your grandparents was born in the island of Ireland, so all you need is one of their birth certificates.”

    I readily qualify, as according to the Irish Embassy both my parents are automatic Irish citizens (though neither ever registered). BUT … in order for ME to prove my heritage/citizenship, i need my birth certificate (long form — with both parents’ names and their BDs on it), my parents’ marriage certificte, either parent’s birth certificate (again, long form with my grandparents’ names and BDs on it), grandparent’s marriage certificate (this is key — the two names on the marriage certificate have to match up with the two names listed on either of my parent’s birth certificate), and one grandparent’s birth certificate (matching up to whichever side i go with).

    As for millions of Americans and Australians having the ability to get Irish citizenship, I just don’t think this is so. I know that 40 million Americans claim that they’re Irish, but very few have any close ties to Ireland — they’re generations upon generations ‘in’ to America. I’ve met so many people over the years who tell me they’re irish, yet can’t even say when their ancestors came over or from what county/province.

    I know it’s a bit of a cheek for me to be getting Irish citizenship, and for the most part I try to avoid the Plastic Paddy badge at all costs — i find it insulting to the ‘real’ Irish that so many Americans claim that they’re Irish when they know nothing about the country. It’s those same Americans that i’ve witnessed playing on every negative Irish stereotype without even realizing what they’re doing.

    That said, posting yesterday spurred me on to try once more to find either one of those dang marriage certificates — emailed all of my aunts & uncles immediately after, harrassing them for any and all new information. Heard back from one of my aunts this morning with some new information, so i’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Miss Fitz,

    I’m assuming at least one of your parents was born in Ireland? if so, then you were one step — and one generation – ahead of me, making the paperwork easier.

  • pith

    Mayoman,

    I am not clever enough to be cynical. It’s just that I reckon I have travelled as much as most people but I never seem to have these great, “I’m am not British so I’m not” capers. However, I intend to make a few smart additions to my luggage in future. Hopefully some knife-wielding johnny foreigner will mistake me for a Brit so that I will have the opportunity of pulling on my big green top hat and getting my harp out and then we’ll both head to the nearest Irish pub (probably very near) in his taxi for a good old rendition of Delaney’s Donkey.

    (DUPer into the UVF – that’s cynical. I think).

  • Mayoman

    Just your shiny new Irish passport will do, pith, honest! Maybe (and I’m guessing here!), your Irish accent meant people thought you were, (wait for it!) Irish!! Unfortunatley, I was born in England, and, therfore, can get mistaken for a brit (being born there and all that!). And I have to say, that being able to flash the ‘Irish’ card does seem to get you places at times. (ps. probably have to hold my hands up to being cynical!)

  • pith

    Mayoman, I will take your excellent advice and invest in an Irish passport today. I will then proceed to some far flung place on Easyjet or even farther flung place on Ryanair. I will rob a few banks, get full of drink, wreck the place, boke a lot and wait for a big hug from the police when they check my id. Has anyone else robbed a bank on a stag weekend?

  • British

    “Most unionists and loyalists do not deny they are Irish at all. Those who do, do so out of ignorance and nothing more.”

    The “you’re stoopid I’m smart” school or argument there.

  • British

    “I do believe we need a crackdown on illegals using marriage to get citizenship though.”

    Of course Brian can verify his own parents wedding… what with being at the ceremony and all.

  • Miss Fitz

    Ah Slugfest, you are correct then. If either of your parents were to get their Irish passport, it might simplify it for you. Both my parents were born here, but were naturalised yanks. That was not a factor when I applied under my mother’s name and birth certificate

  • Harry Flashman

    Mayoman & Rafa Benitez

    I’m very much with pith on this one, since I was a kid I’ve been brought up on stories of stern faced waiters/barmen/taxi drivers/policemen/hookers* (*delete as appropriate) who say “Fuck you English” until the traveller from the Emerald Isle makes his nationality plain whereupon the aforementioned surly Johnny foreigner breaks into song, hugs the Irishperson, wipes a tear of joy from his eye, gives him free drink, free food, a place for the night and a bunk up with his pretty sister.

    Let me tell you, as someone who has filled up both my British and Irish passports with visa stamps in five years’ travelling around the world I have never, repeat never, encountered this phenomenon. I have never received the slightest difference in service from any foreigner based on the respective symbols on the front of my otherwise identical EU passports.

    Let me get this straight Rafa, a mob of Czech thugs surrounded some tourists in order to do them mischief but upon discovering they’re Irish they instead escorted them to a pub to sing Irish rebel songs? Oh, I see, I read that again it didn’t actually happen to you, it happened to a friend. Does your “friend” have any other stories? Like the time he was out in the car in a dark night and he got stopped by a bloke who turned out to be an escaped psycho from the local lunatic asylum, or the time he ate a burger and found a chewy piece of gristle that turned out to be a mouse. Rafa check out “urban myths” in google.

    Mayoman, it was remarkable how despite your drunken state you still had the presence of mind to remember that you had brought your Irish passport with you on your binge (risky I’d have thought, I always leave my passport safely locked in my hotel room when I go on benders) and to whip it out for the taxi man who immediately recognised it and understood that a drunken Irishman in his taxi is so much more of a pleasant experience than a drunken Brit, given the state of drunken Irish tourists that I have seen in Spain fighting and puking like the best of their English colleagues, he seems like a remarkably trusting taxi driver!

  • Mayoman

    I merely present a corroborating (and told it somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’)story Harry–sorry it riled you into such a lengthy reply! So your experiences are differnt to mine. So what? It makes mine and Rafa’s none the less true. I have many more, I won’t bore you, and furthermore, I couldn’t bear to read the reply!

  • harry flashman

    Sorry you thought I got riled, I thought my reply was much more “tongue in cheek” than your original post, I won’t bore you any more except to say I don’t believe you or Rafa.