Is the British Home Office creating two tiers of Irish citizenship?

Of interest, as the UK grapples with the implications of Brexit and Northern Ireland:

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) explicitly states that people born in Northern Ireland are unique within the UK in having the birthright to identify as Irish or British or both.

However, the British Home Office is now arguing through the courts that the people born in Northern Ireland are “automatically British” as they were “clearly born in the United Kingdom.”

This is not a cosmetic assertion, it’s not merely a quibble over language or intent. Making citizens of Northern Ireland automatically British against their wishes has profound implications for their lives and for the future stability of the peace there.

Critics contend that the Home Office is essentially forcing British citizenship on Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland – citizens who identify as Irish by birth and by choice.

They are also forcibly countering an option that the people of Ireland north and south voted in record numbers for in the Good Friday Agreement referendum in 1998.

Take the example of an Irish national who holds an Irish passport, and who was born in Derry. The position of the Home Office is that they are a dual British/Irish national, but if they would like to fully retain and access their rights as an Irish and E.U. national in the U.K. they would have to “renounce” their British citizenship and rely solely on their Irish citizenship. Even if they have never claimed British citizenship. Even if they do not hold a British passport.

Source: Is the British Home Office creating two tiers of Irish citizenship?

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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