Northern Ireland

Brexit: No government review into Irish citizens' rights in NI

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The government has said it is not carrying out a "formal review" into the post-Brexit rights of Irish citizens who were born in Northern Ireland.

It follows concerns that a change in UK immigration rules could mean the loss of some rights after Brexit.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, anyone born in Northern Ireland has the right to be British, Irish or both.

The issue of citizenship was raised the last time Theresa May was in Northern Ireland in February.

Theresa May said she had asked the home secretary to review cases concerning NI-born Irish citizens who had difficulties bringing in family members.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Stuart McDonald raised the matter in a written question. to the House of Commons.

Mr McDonald asked about terms of reference and a time frame for the review to take place.

In response, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, was considering it with the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley - but there was no timescale for it.

She said Mrs May had asked them to "review the issues, not to conduct a formal review".

"This work is ongoing, and as the prime minister has said, a solution which complies with the Belfast Agreement will be set out as soon as possible," Ms Nokes added.

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Image caption Caroline Nokes said Mrs May had asked the Home Secretary to "review the issues, not to conduct a formal review"

On Wednesday, the rights issue was raised in the Seanad (Irish senate) by Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile.

He called on the Irish government to give clarity after speculation that a "tiered level of citizenship" could come into existence.

Ireland's Europe Minister Helen McEntee responded saying the government is committed to protecting the rights of Irish citizens in Northern Ireland.

'Unwavering commitment'

Last year, the British government announced a settlement scheme to allow EU citizens to stay in the UK after Brexit.

It said people from the Republic of Ireland did not need to apply for settled status - but can do so if they wish.

But the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) has previously expressed concerns that the Home Office could reject applications from NI-born Irish citizens, who would be applying in order to access EU citizen rights.

The Home Office said it has an "unwavering commitment" to upholding the Good Friday Agreement, including its provisions on citizenship and identity.

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