‘I’ll tell you what - there are no queues like this in England’ - David Puttnam becomes an Irish citizen

The Oscar-winning film producer applied for citizenship three years ago after Brexit

After 32 years living in west Cork, the Oscar-winning film producer and environmentalist David Puttnam and his wife Patsy have formalised their relationship with Ireland.

“This is home,” they said after being conferred with Irish citizenship at an event in Co Kerry on Monday.

The couple applied for citizenship three years ago after Brexit, but, as Mr Puttnam put it, Covid-19 then “got in the way”. They were among more than 900 people conferred with Irish citizenship in Killarney as in-person ceremonies took place for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Mr Puttnam last year retired as a member of Britain’s House of Lords, warning at the time that democracy in the country faced multiple threats and accusing prime minister Boris Johnson of running a “populist government that’s trampling on held rights and conventions, with the sole purpose of tightening its grip on power”.

Reflecting on his decision to take up Irish citizenship, he said the last few years have seen his native land change for the worse and that it was no longer “the country I was born into”.

“It has ceased to have the values I really believed it to have, and this is a very painful thing to say,” the 81-year-old told The Irish Times.

“I’ll tell you what – there are no queues like this in England,” he said of the new citizens who were eager to be welcomed into the wider Irish nation.

Mr Puttnam, whose films include The Mission, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express, said being granted Irish citizenship brought together his and Patsy’s affection for the area where they live, for Ireland more broadly and what the country represents.

People originally from the UK were the single biggest grouping to be granted Irish citizenship at the events, accounting for 111 of the 950 successful applicants, who came from 92 different countries, at Monday’s ceremonies.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stressed the value of EU citizenship for Irish citizens. Asked if this was the reason for the regularly large numbers of UK applicants, particularly since Brexit, she said there had always been significant numbers of Britons seeking Irish citizenship.

“This is reflective of the fact we have such an integrated history and that continues,” Ms McEntee said, adding that there were “a multitude of reasons” why people sought to become Irish citizens.

“Whatever it is, we are hugely welcoming of them,” she added.