A troubling change in my place of birth
Sir, – Tánaiste Simon Coveney stated, “People in Northern Ireland have a right to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both . . . No one should have to go to court to be able to assert that right effectively”, (Gerry Moriarty, Home News, December 18th).
I was born in Co Antrim and recently had to renew my driving licence. When I received the new one, my place of birth had been changed from “Ireland” to “Northern Ireland”. I complained to the National Driving Licence Service and received an anonymous reply that “As County Antrim is a county in Northern Ireland and not the Republic of Ireland, the place of birth must be displayed as ‘Northern Ireland’.”
No rationale was given for this change other than an EU directive which came into force in 2013. I have checked out this directive (Commission directive 2013/47/EU of October 2nd, 2013 amending directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on driving licences) and it merely states that “place of birth” must be included on the licence.
Like the driving licence application, the passport application form asks for county of birth and my Irish passport records it as County Antrim, not “Northern Ireland”. Some time ago there was a report in your paper about an Irish passport application resulting in County Derry being recorded on the passport of the applicant. A request to have it changed to County Londonderry was apparently successful.
I have asked the NDLS to change my “place of birth” on the licence back to Ireland or to County Antrim. They have advised that unless I can provide sufficient proof that my place of birth is within the Republic of Ireland, then my licence will remain unchanged.
As I do not intend to let this matter drop, I would request the Tánaiste to have the situation rectified before I have to go to court. – Yours, etc,