Brexit sparks increase in UK nationals contacting Irish helpline

The Immigrant Council of Ireland says callers are concerned about their rights in the wake of the vote

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has witnessed an immediate upsurge in the number of calls from UK nationals to its helpline in the wake of last week’s Brexit vote.

The main concerns noted from callers concerned residency rights, rights to remain working here, and the rights of family members to live in Ireland.

Chief Executive Brian Killoran said: “We have also been receiving lots of calls from UK nationals with family-members from outside the EU, who are concerned about whether or not EU rules will still apply for their family’s particular circumstances."

The organization said they are keen to reassure those getting in contact that "nothing will change" in the immediate future.

"The negotiations around the UK’s exit from the EU are likely to take a number of years, and it is expected that there will be no changes to UK nationals’ residency and working rights, or those of their families, during that time," Killoran added.

“In the meantime, the Immigrant Council remains committed to providing support services for anyone who needs them and we will work closely with the Government as new, post-Brexit immigration policies are negotiated."

The increase in calls has followed a noticeable trend throughout 2016 as UK nationals were in the top 10 of those contacting the organisation.

“They didn’t feature in the top 10 at all in 2015," explained Brian Killoran, "Now, they are the eighth most common nationality contacting us for support."

The organisation also said they are aware of a steady increase in immigration applications to the Department of Justice and Equality based on family rights from UK nationals and their family members.

The Immigrant Council also said today that Ireland has crucial lessons to learn from Brexit due to the "negative narrative" around migration that dominated the campaign.

Yesterday, it was revealed that reports of hate crimes to a police website in the UK had risen by 57% following the EU referendum vote.

“In the wake of Brexit, Ireland must examine our own attitudes to immigration and integration and, in particular, assess how these issues are being perceived and discussed publicly," said Killoran.

“The Immigrant Council is calling for a national integration strategy to be published as a matter of urgency.

"This must focus on building strong links within communities at a local level, in our schools and on the streets, and addressing the fear and misinformation that all too often lead to racist or xenophobic attitudes.”