Declan Breathnach TD

Louth (and East Meath)

4th April 2019

Breathnach says the citizenship issue in the North needs urgent clarification

– the Emma de Souza case has revealed a major u-turn in the promise to uphold the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts –

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach has said that the Emma de Souza case has really exposed the many areas that are being over-looked by Brexit.

“We were told from the start of the Brexit negotiations, that the Good Friday Agreement is all its parts would be protected fully.  However, as can be clearly seen, the citizenship issue has uncovered a big u-turn in this initial promise, as the Good Friday Agreement has already been undermined.  It has always been recognised that the people of Northern Ireland have a birth-right to hold Irish or British citizenship and/or passports or both on the basis of equality.

“The De Souza case has thrown up a basic breach of this principle of equality.  Brexit has brought about a situation where Irish citizens would remain EU citizens and British citizens wouldn’t even though they reside in the same region, on the island of Ireland.

“This situation is one of many coming about because of the opening of the can of worms that is Brexit.   I can see it for myself clearly, that the old divides of sectarianism are opening up.  This issue is one of many that will focus on division between the two communities in Northern Ireland while for the past 20 odd years we have been focussing on unity of purpose and maintaining the valuable peace that ensued from the Good Friday Agreement.

“Brexit will indeed cause the status of Irish people born in Northern Ireland to change constitutionally, in that Irish citizens will be EU citizens living in a non-member state.  This whole conundrum was not teased out in the negotiations.

“In a very recent Parliamentary Question asked in Westminster on this issue the response was “The Prime Minister asked the Home Secretary to work with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to review the issues, not to conduct a formal review. This work is ongoing, and as the Prime Minister has said, a solution which complies with the Belfast Agreement will be set out as soon as possible”.

“I am seeking an urgent response from Minister Simon Coveney to safeguarding the rights of those Irish citizens born and living in Northern Ireland.

-Ends- Johanna Walsh, Office of Declan Breathnach T.D.,

Leinster House, Dublin 2 (Declan – 087 2697638) (T) 01 6183549 (Email)  declan.breathnach@oireachtas.ie