Willie Hay raises British Passport costs for Irish unionists born after 1949

Willie Hay has raised the significant cost for Irish unionists born after 1949 of obtaining a British Passport.

By Kevin Mullan
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 12:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 12:55 pm

The former Assembly speaker who was born in Milford in 1950 and was thus not automatically entitled to a British Passport raised the matter in the British House of Lords this week.

"Everyone in Northern Ireland should feel comfortable expressing their national and cultural identity. This includes those who cherish the Irish identity. I want to say something briefly about identity, which I have raised several times with government Ministers.

"I hope at some point to raise it in this House through a Motion. Here is one example: people who were born in the Irish Republic, have moved to Northern Ireland and lived there all their life—paid their taxes and national insurance, voted, and all of that—find it very difficult to apply for and get a British passport.

Willie Hay

"In fact, the cost of applying for a British passport through the whole process, which will take six months to one year, is £1,300, which many people in Northern Ireland cannot afford," said the senior DUP man.

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He has consistently complained of the fact that Irish unionists born before the Irish Free State’s departure from the British Commonwealth in 1949 have been automatically entitled to a British Passport while those - like him - born after that year, have not.

"It is an issue I want to raise in this House at some point because it creates a problem for people who want to have a British identity and passport and to be British. At this moment it affects around 40,000 people in Northern Ireland; that is a huge number of people who find it difficult to get British identity in Northern Ireland.

"The only reason is because they were born in the Irish Republic. I will leave it at that, but that is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed when it comes to culture and identity," he said.