Ian Paisley, Jr, the Democratic Unionist Member of Parliament for North Antrim, has dismissed the Irish passport as nothing more than a “European document with an Irish harp stuck on the front posing as a passport.”
The son of the late Ian Paisley, former First Minister of Northern Ireland and a Protestant and Unionist leader, Paisley, Jr. was asked in a recent interview with BBC Northern Ireland for his thoughts on the post-Brexit surge in Irish passport applications.
The number of applications for Irish passports in Northern Ireland was up 63% in July, compared with the same period last year, reaching a record high of 6,60 applications.
Read more: Sharp rise in Irish passport applications from Northern Ireland
"I'm very relaxed with people if they feel they are entitled to a second passport and that it will be of some benefit to them, why would they not apply?,” Paisley, Jr. said.
"For international travelers especially, it can be a very convenient thing to have.
"I have no actual objections. It is a European document with an Irish harp stuck on the front posing as a passport, but it's essentially a European document, so why would they not want to have it? I don't have one, but I won't discourage people if they think it is of benefit to them."
The North Antrim MP has previously encouraged his constituents to apply for Irish passports.
"My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one. I sign off lots of applications for constituents,” he tweeted on June 24.
"My advice is to take as many as you can especially if you travel to different world trouble zones."
My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one. I sign off lots of applications for constituents https://t.co/oWoiVIFF8A— Ian Paisley (@ianpaisleymp) June 24, 2016
Northern Irish citizens with Irish passports will be able to maintain their EU rights once Britain leaves the union in two years time, and Paisley, a staunch Unionist, views this method of compromise as preferable to the United Ireland border polls called for by Sinn Fein.
The majority of Brexit voters in Northern Ireland – 55.8% – voted to remain in the EU.
Paisley, Jr. was a one of the MP's who made up the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in the parliament at Westminster which conducted an inquiry as to the effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland and revealed a 28-page document published by Leave.EU and Global Britain that made a “positive case” for Northern Ireland outside of the EU.
H/T: Irish Independent