Citizenship campaigner should not have to go to court to assert right – Coveney

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The Tánaiste has said an Irish citizenship campaigner should not have to go to court to assert her right.

Emma De Souza has lodged a challenge in the Court of Appeal in Belfast to a ruling that those born in Northern Ireland are automatically British citizens.

She won a case against the Home Office in 2017 after it deemed she was British when her US-born husband Jake applied for a residence card.

In October, an immigration tribunal upheld an appeal brought by the Home Office.

People in Northern Ireland have a right to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both as they may so choose and to hold both British and Irish citizenship, as guaranteed by the agreement

They met Simon Coveney in Belfast, and he said: “We agreed that more needs to be done to support confidence in the citizenship and identity provisions of the Good Friday Agreement for all of the people of Northern Ireland.

“People in Northern Ireland have a right to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both as they may so choose and to hold both British and Irish citizenship, as guaranteed by the agreement.

“No-one should have to go to court to be able to assert that right effectively.”

Government lawyers argued that people born in Northern Ireland are British citizens according to the 1981 British Nationality Act, even if they identify as Irish.

The Good Friday Agreement allows people to identify as British, Irish or both, but the Home Office said the agreement did not supersede the 1981 British Nationality Act.

Mr Coveney said: “The Government will keep engaging with the British Government to seek that this key provision of the Good Friday Agreement is meaningfully provided for in respect of the concerns raised by the De Souzas’ case, and in other areas, as a matter of urgency.

“We will also be remaining in ongoing contact with Emma and Jake De Souza and as their case continues.”



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