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Commission presents evidence on citizenship to NI Affairs Committee

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Commission presents evidence on citizenship to NI Affairs Committee

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will present evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee this morning, regarding its inquiry into Citizenship and Passport Processes in Northern Ireland.

NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby commented:

We welcome the opportunity to present to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and that it has initiated this Inquiry. We recommend the incorporation of the birthright commitment in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement 1998 to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both, without any loss of rights or entitlements, into UK law relating to citizenship or immigration.

“We encourage the Committee to give positive consideration to our possible solutions set out in our 2020 research with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which were devised in a way that avoids undermining and or inadvertently risking the rights of those affected. The Commission wants to address concerns held by both those who identify as British and those who identify as Irish, to ensure that no one is left behind. We look forward to continuing to engaging with the UK and Irish Governments to facilitate constructive conversations on this complex matter.”


Further information:

1. The Chief Commissioner will be joined by the Commission’s Head of Service to the Dedicated Mechanism for the evidence session, which will take place at 9:30am on Wednesday 10th March. The session will be live streamed on the Parliament Live website, and can be accessed here.

2. “Barriers to citizenship for NI residents scrutinised”- the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Inquiry was launched in December 2020 to “examine
naturalisation and citizenship processes and consider whether they fairly reflect the rights enshrined in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.” Read more
about the Inquiry and the Committee here.

3. In March 2020, the Commission published a report ‘A Legal Analysis of Incorporating Into UK Law the Birthright Commitment under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998’by Alison Harvey QC. Read the report here. The report was commissioned by the Joint Committee of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissio as research into continuing EU citizenship rights, opportunities and benefits in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

4. Human Rights After Brexit: Under the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement, the UK Government has committed, in Article 2 (1) (‘Article 2’) of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (‘the Protocol’), to ensuring that certain equality and human rights in Northern Ireland will continue to be protected after Brexit.

5. The role of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission of Northern Ireland: To ensure that the UK Government meets its
commitment under Article 2 of the Protocol, it created a ‘dedicated mechanism’ comprising of the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The Commissions have been given additional powers and responsibilities to ensure that the UK Government’s commitment is met. They are responsible for providing advice to government and monitoring, supervising, enforcing and reporting on the ongoing implementation of this commitment. Read more about this work here.

6. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and
established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster. In accordance with the Paris Principles the Commission reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of measures undertaken by the UK Government to promote and protect human rights, specifically within Northern Ireland. Read more about the work of the Commission in its latest Annual Report here. Read about the Commission’s annual statement here.

10 Mar 2021

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