'Irish Citizenship Law after Brexit: Implications for Northern Ireland'
Research Handbook on EU Citizenship Law and Policy (Edward Elgar, 2020/21)
32 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2019 Last revised: 9 Jul 2021
Date Written: June 21, 2021
This chapter will focus on Northern Ireland (NI), the site of the UK’s only land-border with the EU, where many aspects of Brexit are felt most sharply. The issue of EU citizenship is no exception to this. In this chapter, I will examine one particular aspect of Irish citizenship law, which stems from its application in the territory of NI. I will argue that, to a certain extent, at least, the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) applies what I will call an extraterritorial jus soli principle in NI. By this I mean that it awards Irish citizenship to people who would not normally qualify for Irish citizenship based on the principle of jus sanguinis, primarily because they are of British descent. In particular, I will address three questions. First, what are the principles on the basis of which citizenship can be acquired? In so doing I will develop the point that Ireland’s application of its citizenship law in NI does not fully conform to established practice and convention. Second, has Ireland given ‘due regard to European Union law’ when it comes to the application of its citizenship law in NI? Here I will argue that the extraterritorial jus soli principle violates the EU principle of ‘sincere cooperation’. Finally, the chapter will seek to identify possible solutions to Ireland’s violation of EU law. I will argue that in response, Ireland could either change its citizenship law or, the more radical approach, the EU itself, could conceptualise EU citizenship law in a new way.
Keywords: EU Law, Northern Ireland, citizenship, sincere coooperation
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