Unionists critical of move on identity card


UNIONISTS HAVE sharply criticised a British government move to allow those who regard themselves as Irish to apply for ID cards which reflect their “identity rights”.

The union flag does not feature on proposed new British ID cards which home secretary Alan Johnson unveiled yesterday. However the shamrock, rose, thistle and daffodil, representing the component parts of the UK, do appear, as does the royal coat of arms.

The Home Office said the cards would recognise an individual’s identity rights as laid down in the Belfast Agreement.

The ID cards scheme, which has already cost the British government more than £200 million, is being rolled out on a voluntary basis.

It will offer three types of card – a full national ID card for British citizens, a modified design of card for citizens of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), including those with Irish or dual citizenship, which does not include nationality, and another design for what the Home Office in London calls foreign nationals. Each card will cost the holder £30.

The cards for British citizens will allow them to travel throughout the EU, but those in Northern Ireland or Britain and who regard themselves as Irish will not be allowed to travel on their ID cards. They will continue to use their Irish passports.

The cards scheme has been attacked by opposition parties in Westminster including the DUP.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Whilst we welcome the inclusion of the royal coat of arms on ID cards we are disappointed that for the sake of pandering to nationalist prejudice the union flag will be absent upon request.

“The union flag is the flag of Northern Ireland: only those who would choose to take offence because of their political bias would object to it being featured on any national identity card.

“I am disappointed that the government has chosen to pander to such pettiness by announcing that for those who object, a union flag will not feature on their identity card.

“This is an example of political correctness gone mad. I would encourage the government to rethink this foolish move. The DUP opposed the introduction of ID cards in the House of Commons and this latest announcement further vindicates our stance.”