Dublin has issued over half a million new passports so far this year iStock

Ireland has issued over half a million new passports so far this year, with a high demand from the UK since its vote to leave the European Union (EU).

Minister for foreign affairs and trade Simon Coveney said: "Just over halfway through 2017, the Passport Service has already issued over 500,000 passports, with applications up an average of 10% over the same period last year."

Dublin has previously acknowledged the Brexit vote last June is a key factor in the increase in application numbers.

If the trend continues, a million Irish passports could be issued this year, compared to just over 733,000 last year.

Under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, anyone from Northern Ireland is eligible for an Irish passport. People from Britain must prove a close family link to an Irish citizen.

The ministry's figures show that over 45,000 people living in Britain and 53,500 people living in Northern Ireland applied for an Irish passport in the six months from January to June.

The data reinforces the impression that Irish passports are among the most sought-after for British citizens seeking to maintain an EU passport after the Brexit referendum.

Irish media reported last month that the busiest day for the Irish embassy's passport office in London was 28 March – the day UK prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of leaving the EU.

Coveney said the introduction of an online application process in March has helped deal with the high demand, adding that 90% of these applications are being processed within five working days.