Irish nationals should have simpler path to British citizenship, MPs say.

Irish nationals should be allowed to become British citizens without paying a fee or taking a test, a cross-party committee of MPs at Westminster has said.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said it was “indefensible” to charge Irish citizens the same £1,330 fee paid by people from other countries who go through the naturalisation process.

In a report published on Wednesday, the committee said it was especially inappropriate that people who have lived in Northern Ireland for most of their lives but were born on the other side of the Border should have to pay so much to become British citizens.

The Belfast Agreement asserts the right to identify as British or Irish or both for the people of Northern Ireland, defined as “all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent who is a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence”.

People born in the Republic and living in the North or the rest of the UK are not therefore deemed to be “people of Northern Ireland” as defined in the agreement, and they do not benefit from its birthright provisions on identity and citizenship.

‘Out of step’

Committee chairman Simon Hoare said it was “absurd and unfair” that people born in the Republic and living in the North or UK for decades who “feel themselves to be British” have to pay to obtain British citizenship.

“These people are not covered by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement’s birthright provisions, so they have to take the naturalisation route. However, the policy is out of step with what the public needs, and with life on the island of Ireland today. Frankly, the fee must be scrapped.”

The MPs also called on the British government to simplify the process for renunciation of British citizenship for people in the North who want to assert their Irish-only identity. Currently, they first have to declare their British citizenship before being able to renounce it.

Among those the committee heard from was Emma DeSouza, from Magherafelt, Co Derry, who went to court after the British government told her that her legal status was that of a British citizen, although she had never held a British passport and identified as Irish only.

The committee said the issue highlighted a difference in the Irish and British governments’ interpretation of whether the Belfast Agreement’s right to identify as Irish or British implied the right to citizenship.

“The UK and Irish governments should agree to a shared approach towards an interpretation of the birthright provisions to remove any remaining ambiguity,” the report says.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Family call for more safety equipment near lakes and open water.

Family call for more safety equipment near lakes and open water.

Becky Cotterill speaks to a family who lost their teenage son after he drowned in a lake. They are campaigning for more life-saving equipment to be placed near open water. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Lik...

Why internet connections in Germany are so bad - DW Analysis.

Why internet connections in Germany are so bad - DW Analysis.

For years, Europe’s largest economy has failed to roll out good internet connections across the country, and that’s increasingly becoming a problem. By telling the story of one small village in central Germany and how it’s been fighting for better...

What To Do If You Get An Eviction Notice

What To Do If You Get An Eviction Notice

3.6 million Americans say they will likely have to leave their homes in the next two months due to eviction. NBC News’ Maura Barrett shares tips on what to do if you’re facing an eviction notice. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NB...

NHS workers march on Downing St to protest 3 per cent pay rise.

NHS workers march on Downing St to protest 3 per cent pay rise.

NHS workers and their supporters march from St Thomas' Hospital to Downing Street in protest at the 3 per cent pay rise the Government has given them. Among them were nurses Janet Maiden, David Carr, Shelley Pearce and retired nurse Dave Bell. The...

Human Trafficking Survivors Share Their Stories

Human Trafficking Survivors Share Their Stories

Two survivors of human trafficking share their stories and advocates tell NBC News’ Simone Boyce what the U.S. can do to help other women.» Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful ...

‘Ludicrous’ for Dems to talk immigration reform in spending bill: Rep.

‘Ludicrous’ for Dems to talk immigration reform in spending bill: Rep.

Rep. Andy Biggs R-Az., tells ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ Democrats should discuss immigration reform after they secure the border. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-h...