Rights of Irish in Britain and British in Ireland protected from no-deal Brexit

New UK-Ireland arrangement to protect Common Travel Area ‘ready to go’ – Tánaiste

Simon Coveney brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday on the operation of the CTA in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Simon Coveney brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday on the operation of the CTA in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Irish citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in Ireland will not have to take any action to protect their existing rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said a new bilateral arrangement between the UK and Ireland to protect the Common Travel Area (CTA), in existence since the 1920s, is “ready to go”.

The CTA predates both Ireland and the UK’s EU membership and confers reciprocal rights and privileges on citizens of both countries living in each other’s jurisdictions.

These include the freedom for Irish citizens to live, work, and study in the UK on the same basis as UK citizens, with the same rights reciprocated for UK citizens living in Ireland. It also covers access to healthcare, education and social benefits, such as pensions.

The new arrangement will take effect in all Brexit scenarios – in the event of a deal and also in the event of no-deal.

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Mr Coveney brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday on the operation of the CTA in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The new, post-Brexit arrangement will be mostly covered by a memorandum of understanding, as well as an internationally binding treaty between Ireland and Britain to cover social security and other deals on education.

The Tánaiste said the collection of measures on the CTA are ready to be signed by the Irish and UK governments, in order to kick in when Brexit takes effect in just over two months’ time.

He indicated that some of the most difficult areas to deal with under CTA arrangements are social security measures and pensions.

“With joint EU membership, a lot of the formalities in the CTA were no longer required, such as free movement of people, so we, both Britain and Ireland and the EU all accept that there will be a new bilateral arrangement between Britain and Ireland to ensure that the same CTA benefits that we enjoy every day will be maintained through and out the other side of the Brexit process, deal or no deal,” Mr Coveney said at a briefing for journalist after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“That will be in the form of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries but also a legally binding international treaty on social security. There has been a lot of work in that area. There will also be a [memorandum of understanding] on education and there will be a high level principles agreement in relation to healthcare.

“That is where we are on the CTA which is really ready to go, to be honest but there are obviously timelines required in terms of the legislation that may be linked to that.”