Video: Gregory Campbell tells Julian Smith to sort out British Passport anomaly for Donegal unionists
DUP MP Gregory Campbell today urged the Secretary of State Julian Smith to end the 'anomalous' United Kingdom citizenship regime that deprives Donegal unionists born after 1949 automatic entitlement to a British Passport.
The East Derry MP raised that matter with Mr. Smith when he appeared at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
"In the whole issue of Britishness and Irishness in Northern Ireland there are many people who were born in the Irish Republic but who have lived virtually all their lives in Northern Ireland and aren't entitled to a British Passport on the same basis as people who have never been in the Irish Republic are entitled to an Irish Passport," said Mr. Campbell.
The senior DUP figure was referring to a legal position precipitated by the Irish Free State’s departure from the British Commonwealth in 1949.
People born in Donegal and elsewhere in the South prior to 1949 are automatically entitled to British citizenship.
But that is not the case for people born there after that date.
"I've raised this issue over many years, the committee have raised it. Do you have any plans to speak to your counterpart in the Home Office to ensure that that anomaly is rectified because those British citizens, taxpayers, residents, voters, in the UK, many of them for many decades are deprived the right that is afforded to others who would have their allegiance to the Irish State.
"Whereas these people have their allegiance to the United Kingdom State where they live, reside and pay taxes," said the East Derry MP.
Mr. Smith replied: "I'm aware of this issue and I know that you've represented it consistently to my predecessors and others. I'm happy again to raise this matter with the Home Office and to talk through anything we could do to improve upon the situation.
"I think it's also worth remembering that the Common Travel Arrangements (CTA), that under that, British and Irish citizens have the right to enter and remain in the other State without requiring permission."
Mr. Campbell responded: "That's nothing to do with Passports," to which Mr. Smith replied: "I accept that."
Last year Willie Hay, who was born in Milford but has spent most of his life in Derry, told the 'Journal' it was absurd that a sitting member of the British House of Lords was denied what he consider an important badge of identity.
“I think people who are living in the Republic of Ireland, who want a British Passport, should have an easier route to get a British Passport.
“I know a lot of Protestant friends living in Milford and Kilmacrenan and in Donegal who want to live in the Republic but want a British Passport.
“I know people who still want that unionist British identity recognised, although they are quite happy living in the Republic,” he said.