Irish citizens living in Britain are to retain all the rights and freedoms they currently enjoy after the nation leaves the European Union.
In response to committee questions in the British Parliament David Davis, Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said he anticipated “pretty much” copying the Ireland Act 1949 which bestowed on Irishmen and women all the rights of British subjects after Ireland left the Commonwealth that year.
“What we will aim to do is pretty much identical to the 1949 act, which gives effectively citizenship rights to the citizens of each country,” Davis told legislators.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has previously made clear she wants the Common Travel Area to remain intact. The CTA was established in 1923 after Irish independence and allows Irish and British citizens to live and work freely in each others countries. Irish people can also vote in British elections and vice versa.
"The United Kingdom will share a land border with the EU and maintaining that common travel area with the Republic of Ireland will an important priority for the UK in the talks ahead", she said in a speech this year about Britain’s future relationship with the EU.
She also revealed that Britain intended to leave the EU’s Customs Union which allows rules governing trade and commerce to be set in Brussels - something that allows the free movements of goods across the bloc but has long irritated Britain’s eurosceptics who campaigned for Britain’s trade policy to be set by London.
Britain’s impending exit lead to commentators to ask whether border controls would be needed to monitor goods crossing the Irish border.
“It is not going to be easy, it is going to cost us money, a lot of work on technology, to put border controls in but without having border posts, but that is what we intend to do,” Davis told the committee.
“I am confident that actually the two nations and the [European] Commission between them will be able to solve this because we really want to, because the technology is better than it was 20 years ago and because we all understand the value of it… We are not going to do anything which jeopardises the peace process.”
The news comes after a Sinn Féin legislator from Northern Ireland told the European Parliament that Theresa May could stick any border controls “where the sun don’t shine”.
Her colleague John O’Dowd called the British Government’s plan “laughable” and said there was “genuine fear” in Northern Ireland about the prospect of border controls.
However unionists legislators dismissed Sinn Féin’s concerns as hyperbole.
Tom Elliott, the member of the British Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said, “There always will be worries and anxiety about the border till they see it in operation, no matter people say at the moment, but I don’t think any of them are insurmountable.”
H/T: The Times