Immigrants for Yes

On the 25th May 2018 the Irish citizens will be asked to vote on repealing the 8th amendment of the constitution to allow legislation to be created to legalise abortion.

A lot of the discussion ahead of the referendum has been about Irish women and men. But there is a significant portion of the population that has been left out of the debate, and are not allowed to vote in the referendum next week, but are none-the-less affected by its outcome.

According to census data for 2016 there are around 535,000 foreign nationals living in Ireland – that’s 11.6% of the population. These are people who work, make their lives, pay their taxes, contribute to society, send their children to school, and access health care of Ireland.

The average age of immigrants is lower than that of Irish citizens. Nearly half of non-Irish nationals are aged 25 and 42 (child-rearing years), in comparison to only a quarter of Irish nationals. And so the abortion issue disproportionately affects immigrants much more than Irish people.

And yet only Irish citizens are allowed to vote in the referendum.

Non-Irish nationals face the same crisis pregnancies as Irish women – but potentially face bigger problems accessing safe abortion services. They may not be as wealthy as Irish people, face language barriers, and may also be restricted from travelling to countries like the UK because of visa problems.

And so, for the one-in-ten that have no voice in the referendum, we call on the Irish citizens to vote YES for us. For yourselves. For all the people of Ireland.

Irish citizenship

I applied for my Irish citizenship today.

I had been thinking of going through the naturalization process for a number of years now. Although I was born in England, I have made Ireland my home for the last 11 years, and plan to stay here.

The process itself is a little daunting, as there's lots of documentation to gather, 15 pages of forms to fill in, and then there's the fee of over a thousand euros! But I suppose most things that are worth achieving require some effort.

The final process this morning was meeting with a solicitor to have some declarations witnessed and certified copies of official documents made. Then it was off to the post office to send my completed application.

By all accounts it should take around six months to process my application, and one of the complications is that I won't have access to my British passport for the next 6 weeks or so – so I can't travel anywhere.

And with any luck, I'll be attending a citizenship ceremony to swear allegiance to the Irish state some time in the autumn. And after that I can think of applying for an Irish passport.

Progress to date

I'll be keeping my Irish Citizenship page updated with my progress toward becoming Irish.

3000 Days in Ireland

As of today I’ve been living in Ireland for 3,000 days.  That’s a little over 8 years.  And when you put it together with the 12 years I lived in Scotland, then I’ve been living outside of my home country of England for over 20 years.

In another few years, I’ll have been living outside of England for longer than I ever lived there.

And although England will always be my nation of birth, and my accent will always identify me as English, the length of time away has shifted my allegiances somewhat. For international sporting events, for example, I feel much more allegiance to the Irish team than I do for the English.

I guess England no longer feels like home to me.  Sure, it’s where I grew up, and it’s where I have family. But in my case, my feeling of connection to England has faded over time. And as such, I don’t really harbour any desire to return.

Some thoughts on Irish Citizenship for a British person

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?

Personal Experience

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.

The Numbers

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.

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