A British Home Office demand for a Co. Derry woman to renounce her unsolicited United Kingdom citizenship in order to secure her rights as an Irish and EU citizen was criticised in the Dáil yesterday.
The case of Emma DeSouza, who was born in Co. Derry and as an Irish citizen wants to exercise her right to bring her husband Jake, a United States native, to live with her in Derry, was raised by Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.
"We have debated this matter back and forth and, as of yet, I do not believe the Minister has given any firm commitment to legislative change in this jurisdiction, even though it has been clearly outlined that that is needed. Perhaps he could clarify that," he asked the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality Charles Flanagan.
"One case relates to Derry-born Emma DeSouza. Based on her Irish citizenship, her US husband has residency rights in the European Union but Ms DeSouza has been told that she must first renounce her British citizenship, which was automatically acquired at birth but never desired, sought or claimed.
"It is a default citizenship that appears to trump her second class Irish citizenship. There are numerous other cases of citizens who have not been able to obtain a visa through the Irish system because they are resident in the North, despite being Irish citizens," said the Sinn Féin Deputy.
The Minister replied: "There is an onus on the UK Government in this regard to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to recall commitments made in respect of these issues, with particular reference to the citizenship entitlement of people who are currently in residence in Northern Ireland, born in Northern Ireland but, in effect, Irish citizens.
"There are a number of issues that still require clarification but I assure the House of the efforts of the Government in this regard."