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Dual citizenship 
2011-11-15 (Tue) 20:00

I've always considered myself to be both British and Irish. I've been entitled to be an Irish citizen all my life by virtue of having been born on the island of Ireland; but since I was born in Northern Ireland, I'm also a British citizen, and so by a subtle quirk of Irish law I wasn't automatically an Irish citizen. To actually become one I had to do something that only an Irish citizen is allowed to do, the most obvious of which is to get an Irish passport, and I've been meaning to get round to that for years ...

So, as of today, I finally hold a pas Éireannach, and I'm legally a dual citizen. (And it's remarkable how much less ratty it is than my British passport which has spent more time than it ought to have done in a trouser pocket!)

When I talked about intending to do this before, people sometimes asked me why I was bothering. After all, both the UK and Ireland are in the EU, and neither is in Schengen, so there's no functional difference between them; I expect I'll travel on my Irish passport from time to time, but I don't expect it will have any practical effect (although an apparently very confused US immigration official once grilled me about why I wasn't travelling on an Irish passport when I was born in Belfast).

Firstly, I want to: I feel an attachment to both countries. Granted, I've only ever lived in the UK, but in some sense that's an accident of century-old politics, and I feel at home in a different way when I'm in Ireland.

Secondly, I think that if you have privileges extended to you by governments then it's generally a good idea to take them when you can.

Thirdly, my children may want to claim Irish citizenship themselves. They should be able to do so (and, under current law, so can their descendants, indefinitely as long as they keep registering foreign births), but that will be a lot easier for them if I've done the paperwork.

Fourthly, it does not seem outside the bounds of possibility that at some point in my lifetime the UK will have a hissy fit of some kind and leave the EU. I'd rather it didn't, but it's possible and it's not like I'd be able to do a whole lot to stop it. If that happens, there are obvious practical reasons why I'd want to remain a citizen of the EU, and Ireland seems much less likely to leave.

Anyway, rational or not, I'm happy to have finally got this done!

This entry was originally posted at http://cjwatson.dreamwidth.org/1239.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
2011-11-15 (Tue) 23:53 (UTC)
I'm in the same situation; born in Ballymena, lived most of my life in England. I must sort out the same as you. Any suggestions you have for organising this would be very helpful.
2011-11-16 (Wed) 01:55 (UTC)
I'm not sure I ever knew you were born in Ballymena! If I did I'd forgotten ...

Use the embassy's form to request a passport application form; you will send it back to the embassy once completed. In the meantime, get hold of your birth certificate and figure out somebody from their list of approved professions who can act as a witness. For a first-time applicant over 18 they need more ID than usual, but for me that amounted to photocopying a recent payslip, a recent gas statement, and my British passport and driving licence, and sending four photos rather than two; they'll send you instructions with the form anyway. Be careful with the photos as their required size does not appear to be quite the same as for a British passport; wait for the application form to arrive as it has a template you can match photos up against.

The only bit of the form that I felt I needed to double-check elsewhere was the citizenship category: people born in Northern Ireland check "Born in Ireland" and write their county (not country) of birth. Other than that it was quite straightforward as these things go; just a matter of getting round to it.

The form said that I might be called for an interview at the embassy, but they apparently didn't need one in my case.
2011-11-16 (Wed) 09:08 (UTC)
Cool, thanks.
2011-11-16 (Wed) 09:49 (UTC)
Congratulations :) Yeah, it seems good to register your affiliation if you can.
2011-11-16 (Wed) 10:42 (UTC)
I'm the next remove down (my dad's from Larne) and I keep thinking I'd quite like to apply too. I should ask my dad if he's ever seriously considered it really.
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