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.”