Northern Ireland and citizenship


Sir, – Newton Emerson writes that the aim of my litigation against the British Home Office was that “everyone in [Northern Ireland] would be born without citizenship and choose it on reaching adulthood” (“Unionists facing citizenship conundrum after Brexit”, Opinion & Analysis, December 17th).

This is untrue on two counts.

In the first instance, an aim is an objective; the aim of our case was for the Home Office to accept me as an Irish citizen under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, and for my husband to be able to live in Northern Ireland as the spouse of an Irish national. We were successful in achieving that aim and in the process reaffirmed the identity and citizenship provisions of the Belfast Agreement.

Second, our legal team never argued for an amendment to British citizenship law, as clearly stated in the publicly available Upper Tribunal decision (Secretary of State v Jake Parker DeSouza) at point 34. The concept of no defined citizenship at birth until adulthood was not our aim or argument but rather the judge’s interpretation of our counsel’s argument, as clearly marked at points 35-38 in the Upper Tribunal decision.

It would appear that Newton Emerson has not only misunderstood the definition of the word “aim” but has put forward a London judge’s interpretation of our counsel’s argument as if it were somehow mine. It is not. Our case was about protecting the right of everyone in Northern Ireland to be accepted as Irish or British or both and removing a barrier to that right. – Yours, etc,



Co Tyrone.