07:43 GMT27 May 2020
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    The number of UK citizens applying for Irish passports increased by two-thirds (68 percent) in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period last year, the recent statistics from the Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs showed Saturday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the figures, over 51,000 UK nationals applied for Irish passports in January-March, compared to some 30,300 applications made during the same period last year.

    Ireland’s Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said the rise in applications was mainly triggered by the UK decision to withdraw from the European Union.

    "It’s reasonable to suggest that Brexit is a factor in what are record numbers of applications. I think it’s also reasonable to assume that there are large numbers of people of Irish descent who now feel that they would like to remain as EU citizens in what is a changing time in relations between Ireland and the UK," Flanagan was quoted as saying by The Guardian newspaper.

    Earlier in April, Flanagan said that the UK decision to leave the European Union was "bad," as would will likely have a negative impact on both the United Kingdom and Ireland, adding though that as a democrat he "fully respected the will and wishes of the British people."

    On March 29, the United Kingdom finally triggered the EU withdrawal process by handing a formal letter to European Council President Donald Tusk. According to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the United Kingdom now has two years to complete the negotiations, and must leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.

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