Now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union, there has been a surge in the number of UK citizens of Irish descent applying for Irish passports. The demand has gotten so great that Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has had to issue a statement requesting that people not overload the service.
"The increased interest clearly points to a sense of concern among some UK passport holders that the rights they enjoy as EU citizens are about to abruptly end," Flanagan said in an official statement. "I want to state clearly that this is not the case. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union but it has not yet left."
British citizens will still be allowed to move about Europe until the terms of the exit have been negotiated, but no one really knows when the messy, unprecedented changes will take effect. "We are not on Facebook, where things are 'complicated,'" Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said at an EU summit this week. "We are married or divorced but not something in between." Others also expressed interest in a speedy split now that the votes have been cast, with French President Francois Hollande calling for the UK to submit its notification to leave "as fast as possible."
A note on the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website concerning the EU UK Referendum states that "current rules governing the residence rights of Irish citizens in the UK remain in place." The site estimates, according to 2011 Census numbers, that there are 430,000 Irish-born people living in Britain, and adds that "a UK exit from the EU does not change anything regarding entitlement to Irish citizenship." Because the exit is expected to take two years or more, the DFA reiterates that there is no "urgent need" for British passport holders to seek EU member-state passports. However, it does advise residents to make sure that their passports are valid at least three months prior to travel plans, and to allow a minimum of seven weeks for a renewal.