Legislation on British Citizenship rights reaches another milestone

A Private Members Bill proposed by DUP Leader Gavin Robinson MP will extend provision for British citizenship, including the right to hold a British Passport, to those holding Irish citizenship and satisfying UK residency.

Mr Robinson was taking the Bill through a phase of its scrutiny Committee today where they debated extending the scope of the Bill beyond Northern Ireland to the whole of the UK.

By Gavin Robinson MP

Belfast East

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Gavin Robinson MP said,

“The Belfast Agreement sought to address issues of identity. People living in Northern Ireland were able to avail of an Irish passport, my Bill if translated into law will provide the final piece in the identity jigsaw by enabling Irish citizens to avail of British citizenship without the naturalisation process.

The DUP’s Lord Hay of Ballyore was born in Donegal yet has lived for the overwhelming majority of his life in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He served on his local council from 1981. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 and served as the Speaker of the Assembly from 2007 to 2014. That year, he was elevated to the House of Lords and to this day, remains a Peer of this Realm and legislator in our Parliament. Yet he isn’t a British Citizen.

Anyone in that position, serving practically, materially and productively should not be expected to pay a naturalisation fee of £1,580 and complete a ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test. The notion that they should have to do so is offensive, contrary to the spirit of reciprocation offered through the Belfast Agreement in 1998, blind to our history and ignorant of the legal reality.

We also know from the 2021 Census figures that there are some 40,400 people living in Northern Ireland who were born in the Republic of Ireland. Furthermore, we know that circa 32,000 of them were born after 1948 and therefore could avail of this Bill.

My colleague Gregory Campbell has laid much of the groundwork for this bill over the last two decades. It was a testament to his work that this morning my Bill was able to secure cross party support and will continue its journey through the Parliamentary processes.”

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