As of today I am officially a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, I now have dual nationality British-Irish. This has been a long process (there's quite the influx of citizenship applications at the moment for some reason ?) and I wanted to share the reasons for my decision to become Irish.
Ever since I announced my intention to become Irish many people have been asking me why, and there are three answers to that question really.
My decision to become an Irish citizen was a pragmatic one. No one can escape the fact that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. As of yet we have no idea what impact that is going to have on British citizens rights to live and work within Europe. As I am now a citizen of Ireland which is an EU member state I retain those rights regardless of the Brexit deal that the UK neogiates.
Who knows perhaps one day I would like to live out that dream and work from a Spanish square drinking sangria under the orange trees. With a British passport that may not be simple or even possible. With an Irish passport I can simply rock up and move in, no problems.
The fact of the matter is, we don't know what impact "Brexit" is going to have on our right to roam around Europe. One of the apparent core reasons to leave the EU was to prevent EU citizens from working in the UK because apparently they're taking all our jobs and claiming benefits (Nonsense by the way). It is not unreasonable that the EU will prevent the reverse, after all if we won't let EU citizens in, why would they let British citizens in?
2. My children
Even if I never want to live and work on the European continent that is not to say that my children may not want to. Who knows what the future holds, my children may one day want to live in Europe when they are grown up, if they only have a British passport that may not be easy or possible.
By becoming Irish my children will also have the right to Irish citizenship and so they too can enjoy the freedom that being a citizen of an EU member state affords. Essentially me claiming citizenship of Ireland is my gift to my future children to give them the best possible opportunities in life. Whether they choose to take advantage is entirely up to them, but at least thanks to me they have that option.
Heritage is a phrase not often used by white British people but I believe it is no less important for someone from a majority ethnic group to appreciate their history and heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, and going back through the generations I may well have a lot of history in Ireland. I am not automatically Irish however and have to claim my citizenship through my paternal grandmother, many many people in the UK have this right although few exercise it for one reason or another. The big bonus is that because I have now claimed my citizenship it means that going forward future generations can claim citizenship through me, so long as each generation becomes a citizen before the arrival of the next then this chain can continue indefinitely.
As well as Irish citizenship through my paternal grandmother, through my maternal grandmother I have gained my middle name MacIlroy (Or maybe McIlroy as I've recently learnt the spelling should be), a name belonging to the clan MacGillivray which dates back to circa 1549.
Interestingly, recent family geneological research suggests that my McIlroy (note the missing a) roots may well be Irish as well and not as Scottish as once thought. My name was given to me spelt MacIlroy (with an A) based on this notion that it had been spelt wrong in previous generations and needed fixing, research has disproved this though so now my name is seemingly spelt incorrectly.
Whilst a Scottish clan is interesting it offers no practical benefit that I can think of and merely helps paint a complete picture of who I am and where I came from. Knowing our history and family heritage can help to identify who we are, to cement our own sense of cultural and social identity, I would encourage everyone to learn about their family history if they can. There is a famous quote:
“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
Or if you like, a more modern variant from Disney's Moana:
Am I still British?
Absolutely, I am still as British as I ever was. Gaining Irish citizenship does not stop me being British. Gaining Irish citizenship is an extra, I am officially a dual national, 50/50.
Can I be Irish?
Some people have asked me if they can be Irish, the answer is maybe. If you have a parent or grandparent who was born in Ireland or you yourself were born on the island of Ireland (i.e. including Northern Ireland) then absolutely you can be Irish or may already be Irish.
Becoming Irish is quite simple really, if you are Irish by descent through a grandparent born in Ireland then you need to register your birth, and that's it. It costs around €280 at the time of writing and involves a fair bit of paperwork, once registered you are officially Irish. If your parent was born in Ireland or you were born in Ireland then you already are Irish and don't have to do anything, other than register your childrens foreign birth if you wish for them to be Irish as well.
Find out more from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Of course you should consider your own situation and check to ensure that holding dual nationality is the right situation for you. In some lines of work having nationality of another nation could be a problem, or depending on your existing nationality holding dual nationality may well be illegal. So make sure you think about it and research carefully before taking the plunge. If necessary seek legal advice.
Get in touch!
If you've recently done as I have and become Irish, get in touch, would love to hear from you! Send me a Tweet @kieranjones