As a British person living in Ireland, I am afforded all the “freedom of movement” rights of EU citizens to work and live wherever I want in Europe.
I am free to reside and work in Ireland, and can travel without restriction in and out of the country. I don’t need to apply for visas or work permits, unlike non-EU migrants. And as such, I’m treated pretty-much as if I was an Irish citizen.
The freedoms are so universal that it’s hard to come up with many tangible differences between being an Irish or EU citizen. Here’s the only restrictions I can find:
- I’m not allowed to vote in Presidential elections
- I’m not allowed to vote in any referendum votes
- I can’t stand as Irish President, or become a member of the Dáil or Seanad
I place quite a lot of value on the voting rights – as I’ve missed out on numerous referendums since moving here – and I feel a bit disenfranchised by not being able to vote on constitutional changes that will have a direct effect upon my life.
But are the voting rights on their own worth the €1,125 naturalisation fees, and the 6 months of bureaucracy and paperwork?
For the last couple of years I’ve been pondering the idea becoming an Irish citizen. I’ve been living here over 8 years, my wife is Irish, and Ireland looks like it’ll be my home for the foreseeable future. I have deepening roots in this country, and yet sometimes I still feel like a foreigner.
I don’t know if citizenship will help me feel more Irish. I guess my British accent will always set me apart from those who grew up in Ireland. But maybe an Irish passport will help me feel less of an outsider.
Any maybe how I “feel” is what it all comes down to. With few tangible benefits, the major driving force to go for naturalisation would be to feel more at home.
I was hunting around the web for some statistics about the number of British people that apply to Irish naturalisation, but couldn’t find any breakdown of naturalisation by country. The naturalisation numbers just don’t appear to be published anywhere, which seems strange.
There are loads of figures about immigration , and the census breaks down the population by country of origin. Indeed, the last census recorded 390,000 EU nationals resident in Ireland, which amounts to about 8% of the population. But I suspect that the number of those people applying for Irish citizenship is tiny.