Immigration Minister promises no change to Irish rights and privileges in Britain
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Immigration Minister promises no change to Irish rights and privileges in Britain

THE BRITISH Immigration Minister has assured Irish citizens that their rights and privileges will not change after Brexit.

Speaking in front of the Northern Ireland Select Committee last week Caroline Nokes confirmed that the Irish in Britain "will have the right to remain with all of the benefits and privileges that they enjoy now and will continue to enjoy them after Britain leaves the European Union.

Answering a question from Newry-born MP for Saint Helens North, Conor McGinn, Nokes said: "I am very conscious that we take our obligations very seriously and I am very conscious that Irish citizens who will continue to have the rights – not Irish citizens who are here today, but Irish citizens full stop – will still be able to come and go as they always have done.

"[These] protected rights date back to 1922 and the Common Travel Area... we regard [Irish citizens] as settled from day one.”

Conor McGinn MP, Chair of All Party Group Ireland and Irish in Britain, said: "There is anxiety among the Irish community in Britain as to changes that may occur in the long standing arrangements between the two islands due to Brexit.

“It is extremely difficult to have this cloud of doubt hanging over the status and long established rights of the Irish in Britain.

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“I welcome the Minister’s assurance on the issue today on the unique arrangements that will continue to exist for all Irish citizens – both now and in the future - will be guaranteed."

Under the Common Travel Area agreement residents both sides of the Irish Sea have the right to enter and reside in each others’ state without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission, the right to work without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission, the right to access education.

Access to social welfare entitlements and benefits, health services, social housing and the right to vote in local and parliamentary elections is also part of the agreement between Ireland and Britain.

More than 622,000 migrants who were born in Ireland were considered to be in Britain at the last census in 2011. Since then, Dublin has estimated that more than 20,000 people are migrating to Britain from Ireland every year - the highest amount since the 1950s and 1960s.