People born in Northern Ireland will be able to retain their EU citizenship under the deal struck by Theresa May early this morning.
Under an existing agreement, anyone born in Northern Ireland is entitled to an Irish passport, which confers EU citizenship because of the Republic’s membership of the EU.
The deal published on Friday says this arrangement, which was confirmed as part of the Good Friday agreement (having been enshrined in the Irish constitution for many decades), will continue, effectively allowing the province’s population to opt in to be EU citizens.
“Both Parties acknowledge that the 1998 Agreement recognises the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish or British or both and be accepted as such,” the joint text agreed by the two sides states.
“The people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland.”
The agreement is in line with a demand in a British position paper released in August, that “the people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens – or who hold both British and Irish citizenship” will enjoy the rights of EU citizenship.
The European Commission had also suggested in a position paper that “full account should be taken of the fact that Irish citizens residing in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens”.
It comes amid a breakthrough on the Irish border issue, allowing the UK to move to trade and transition talks with the EU after a summit next week.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies