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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C

FactCheck: No, this photo does NOT show a mad rush for Irish passports in the UK’s FactCheck takes on a misleading words-and-picture combo doing the rounds today.


Updated: 4.27am Tuesday

AFTER THURSDAY’S MOMENTOUS UK referendum to leave the EU, there has been what Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan today called “a spike in interest” in Irish passports in Britain and Northern Ireland.

And we’ve already seen anecdotal evidence of particularly increased interest in Northern Ireland:

However, as Flanagan added, “There has been some exaggeration of demand”.

In the Dáil this afternoon, the Minister urged UK citizens to “take full account of the facts” about their right to travel in the EU (which will continue for at least two years) and advised that there was “absolutely no urgency” to apply for an Irish passport now.

He also warned:

An unnecessary surge in applications for Irish passports will place significant pressure on the system and on turnaround times, and is likely to impact on those with a genuine need for passports to facilitate imminent travel plans. / YouTube

The Belgian newspaper De Standaard published this article earlier today, using this photo to illustrate the headline “Brits rush to obtain Irish passports”.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.28.34 AM De Standaard De Standaard

What’s wrong with this picture?

(Remember, if you see a photo or video that may not fit its description, email

The Facts

23/3/2010. Passport Office Chaos Disputes Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

The sharp-eyed among you will have figured this one out already.

The photo used by De Standaard to illustrate a mad rush in the UK for Irish passports since Friday, in fact shows the old passport office on Molesworth Street in Dublin, and was taken on 23 March, 2010.

The true context was a delay in passport processing times caused by an industrial dispute among passport office staff at that time.

What’s more, the building that used to house the passport office – the one featured in the photo – has since been demolished, as this January 2016 photo shows.

21/01/2016. Pictured is the old passport office af Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

We don’t know whether or not the author and editors at De Standaard were aware of the details and context of the photo they used, quite misleadingly, to illustrate British demand for Irish passports.

The story was published at 3.08pm Irish time, and remained online and unedited at the time this article was published.

Although there’s no caption under the photo in the De Standaard article, the clear implication is that it shows a queue for Irish passports in the UK, after Friday’s referendum.

And we know that’s entirely FALSE.

Send your FactCheck requests to

Correction: The first line of this story previously stated that the EU referendum took place on Friday. The result emerged on Friday, but obviously, the referendum itself took place on Thursday.

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