Of the 4,041 passports issued to South Africans last year, many did not involve the descendants of Irish emigrants. One senior garda said: "These would be people who might have applied for asylum, had married an Irish citizen or otherwise sought naturalisation at some point."
Asylum seekers from a number of other African countries also successfully applied for Irish passports, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. A total of 271 people born in Nigeria qualified for citizenship last year in spite of the low rate of success in applying for refugee status by individuals from that country. Around 700 people from India and Pakistan were also granted Irish passports along with 72 from the DR Congo, 130 from Egypt, 171 from Kenya and 189 from Israel.