More than 230,000 applications for Irish passports in past 3 months

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By Rebecca Black, Press Association

There has been almost a quarter of a million applications for Irish passports in less than three months.

Simon Coveney said that more than 230,000 applications have been received to date this year.

The Irish Foreign minister said the figures represent a 30% increase on the same period last year.

It comes after 2018 proved to be a record year with the highest number (860,000) of Irish passports ever issued.

Mr Coveney's department said over 70% of the 2018 applications came from the island of Ireland.

It also revealed it is expecting a further spike this weekend.

During St Patrick's weekend in 2018, more thanver 2,500 people applied for an Irish passport online - and based on current trends, officials are expecting that number double this year.

The figures come on the final countdown to the date the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union.

Last month, the passport division of the Irish embassy in London warned that it is "stretched and working under pressure", and that staffing levels "are not sufficient" to meet the rising number of applications ahead of Brexit.

Irish comedian Chris O'Dowd predicted in February that scores of Britons will be looking for Irish passports after March 29.

However, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs put the spike in applications down to an increase in travelling and a tendency towards early renewal.

Mr Coveney said extra resources have been allocated to the passport service.

"Given the demand we are experiencing significant extra resources have been given to the passport service including hundreds of extra staff for processing and customer service," he said.

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