The UK’s former ambassador to Ireland is applying for Irish citizenship because of the prospect of Brexit.
Sir Ivor Roberts, who was the UK’s representative in Dublin between 1999 and 2003, said he begun the formal process of getting an Irish passport so he could retain his citizenship of the European Union.
The ex-diplomat’s father was born in Northern Ireland and he is therefore entitled to both UK and Irish citizenship.
Sir Ivor told the Irish Times that Brexit was the main factor in his decision as he has a house in Italy and “I don’t want to find myself queuing to get through Rome airport every time I go there”.
After his time in Ireland, he also served as the UK’s ambassador to Italy for three years.
He said he was encouraged to apply for citizenship by his three children, who have also applied for citizenship after the referendum vote in June last year.
Sir Ivor, who will soon retire from his role as president of Trinity College Oxford, has maintained personal and business connections with Ireland since he left.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Ireland though not everyone in Iveagh House [Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs] may agree with that,"he said.
“I obviously worked for the British government for 40 years and I’m not giving up my British citizenship ... My wife Elizabeth is Australian and I may take that up too,” he added.
The number of people from Great Britain and Northern Ireland applying for Irish passports has rocketed in the past year with a 69 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same time last year.
The Irish foreign ministry received 51,079 applications from the UK compared with 30,303 during the same period last year and is said to be hiring extra staff to cope with the workload.
In the days following the referendum the Post Office ran out of forms for Irish citizenship in Belfast after seeing queues around the block.
Anyone with a parent or grandparent born in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland have an automatic right to Irish citizen.