The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said that after Brexit, UK citizens from Derry are likely to require special visas and permits to “work in Berlin, study in Athens and travel freely to Spain” whereas Irish citizens will not.
However, despite this advantage Irish citizens from the North will have greater difficulty accessing various European Union health and educational programmes that their compatriots in the South will continue to enjoy if the UK leaves the EU as scheduled next March.
“An Irish citizen who lives in NI, for example, Belfast or Derry, will be able to work in Berlin, study in Athens and travel freely to Spain,” said the Taoiseach.
“A British citizen living in Belfast might not be able to do those things. He or she might need a work visa or work permit or some other sort of permission to do those things. Irish citizens in NI, by virtue of being EU citizens, will continue to have all the rights that are attached to citizenship,” he added.
He went on to draw a clear distinction, however, between citizens’ rights and rights linked to residency.
He said: “There are some rights that are linked to residency in the same way an Irish citizen living in Canada does not have the same rights as an Irish citizen living in Ireland.”
The Taoiseach said he was working to safeguard those rights as currently enjoyed by Irish citizens resident in Derry.
“Rights that are linked to residency will be more difficult to secure but we want to secure them. We have had some positive discussions on this. The rights we are seeking to secure are the ability of Irish citizens in NI to continue to participate in programmes such as Erasmus and to continue to benefit from the European health insurance card.”