Irish passport holders include “orangemen and hardcore loyalists”, according to Council Debate.

A council is calling for an Irish passport office to be set up north of the border amid news that “dozens and dozens of Orangens who are hardcore loyalists” already have travel documents.

At debate in Newry, Morne and Down Borough Council this week, stories were heard of family holidays ruined or people left behind from trips abroad because their Irish passport was taking too long to be processed in the Republic.

Downpatrick Councilor Oonagh Hanlon (SF) said the move would “relieve the burden” on local applicants, although the DUP’s Henry Reilly dismissed the idea as “stupid”.

The most recent census showed that the number of people in Northern Ireland who hold an Irish passport has increased by 63.5 per cent over the last 10 years.

Ms Hanlon requested that Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney be contacted to raise the issue.

She said: “My office is inundated with people having problems with passport applications in the North. I have personally had to contact people who have had to cancel their vacations and I have spent hours phoning passport offices to no avail.

“There have been some families who have had to make the difficult decision of whether to split the family or cancel the holiday altogether. There are people who applied for a passport last Christmas and in June they still didn’t have it. A passport office should be set up in the north to relieve applicants from here.”

Mr Reilly (DUP) highlighted an increase in applications for Irish passports in the union community but was opposed to the establishment of an office in Northern Ireland.

He said: “I know dozens of Orangemen who are hardcore loyalists and have Irish passports. I understand the emotional attachment Councilor O’Hanlon would have to the Irish Republic and passports, but there is absolutely no need for an Irish Passport Office here.

“There isn’t even a passport office in Donegal in the north of the republic.

“I’ve even phoned Dublin myself to try to expedite passports for voters.”

Ms. Hanlon’s motion was accepted with the support of Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance.

All seven union council members present voted against. Irish passport holders include “orangemen and hardcore loyalists”, according to Council Debate.

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