There has been some discussion on passports recently. i found myself chewing over the details at some length .It’s a topic that is rarely discussed in any detail until such time as we are possibly preparing to pack our cases for that four-day city break, only to discover that said document is out of date or even lost . It’s then you realise just what an important little book it really is. Things are possibly about to get more complicated than that ,though.
In light of the burgeoning Brexit movement to leave the EU , many are giving this document more than a simple cursory glance. It is wrapped up in the very idea of citizenship and a sense of identity.Theresa May ,the British Prime Minister has been in the news recently . She has been reported to be about to announce that she plans to end the rights of EU nationals under freedom of movement rules when she triggers Article 50 at the end of the month ,on the 31st March.Her eye is on the possibility of an upsurge of incomers from Bulgaria and Romania before that date.The “Daily Telegraph” has reported that the Prime Minister was expected to soon announce that EU citizens arriving after a specific “cut-off date” sometime within a fortnight around the 15th March , would not be entitled to live in the UK permanently.Those 3.6 million EU citizens who already live in Britain and all those who came before that date would be protected , providing UK citizens living in the UK were equally protected in the EU. This could be construed as the Prime Minister playing hardball in light of future debate as to the shape of Brexit.She looks as though she’s firing a shot across the bows as a debate -opener.
That’s a fair enough play, but how might legislation like that affect any of us living here throughout Ireland? I’m thinking specifically of those Irish citizens both northern and southern who hold Irish EU passports.Will there be checks and curbs put in place ?What about the much talked about “Common Travel Area” ,then?What about the idea of a “soft” or open border?Better still , what about those of us holding Irish passports and especially those having been born and living in the north , with their single Irish EU passport? There is no distinction between northern Irish and southern Irish passport holders at present and why should there be , given that we are allowed this shared identity as a right as Irish people .? Will nationalists , still under the aegis of Westminster be forced to also buy a British passport as well to assert the rights they already pay for within the current political arrangement? Yes, this Brexit is throwing up more potential complications at every turn and is nibbling away at the tenuous relationships we in Ireland have long-shared with the UK; laws and relationships that have been made over many, many years.
Better still ,how will this actually affect British/Irish relationships in the future , given that we are already beginning to foresee real problems with the post -Brexit border? The Irish have always travelled freely between the two landmasses for many generations and were a great part of building the infrastructure of the UK. How does all of this affect the rights of everyone in Ireland from end to end?; from the fellow in Carlow to the girl in Coleraine.Of course there is also dual-citizenship/subjecthood in the mix, especialy in the northern part of Ireland and those with that might not be affected by any changes to come .Some who hold UK passports are also able to apply for Irish ones too and are doing so to cover all the possible bases. In the Republic of Ireland because of the Ireland Act of 1949 , passport holders are currently treated the very same as UK passport holders in the UK but northern and southern holders live in different jurisdictions.There is still no distinction between the holders, north or south, them both having the exact same Irish EU passport. Will this need to be amended in some way, given that all these holders could possibly be be seen as coming from within the single EU community, even though many of them do not? There is no particular distinction in the actual document issued as yet? Will the passport have to be re-edited and re-designed?
So to keep things simple, will we have to buy two passports?; one Irish EU one, still entitling us to remain an EU citizen and also a UK passport entitling us to travel freely within the length and breadth of the UK? I wonder has this been discussed at any level and how will all this go down in future negotiations.
I wonder would a “Two-for-One ” passport package- deal be the solution to this one for Norneverland dwellers.After all the nonsense we have had to put up with for the past hundred years or so in our Irish /British relationships , I think we might all deserve a magnamonious deal something along those lines ,or will we be charged twice-over to declare our Irishness and still retain the benefits and travel arrangements that we are being asked to accept under the UK’s current jurisdiction?.