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By Jason Michael

NOT A SINGLE self-respecting Republican ever expected Britain to honour the Good Friday Agreement. Britain has never respected Ireland and the Irish people enough to consider agreements with them worth the paper they are written on. The imperialist British psyche, even today in 2019, makes it difficult for Britain to grasp the reality that Ireland is not part of Britain and not subject to its authority. The naivety of the comfortable middle-classes in Ireland and Britain was such that the signing of the Good Friday Agreement was greeted as the end of the Troubles, the end of the war – and the war is over, but this was only an armistice. It was never a peace treaty. This is why Brexit and the DeSouza case are so important to everyone in the 32 counties of Ireland. Given Britain’s callous indifference to the GFA and its past record in Ireland, its behaviour now really threatens the peace of this island.

Derry-born woman Emma DeSouza has never considered herself British. She identifies as Irish, and the GFA – accepted in good faith by the people of Ireland – gives her the right to identify “as Irish or British, or both.” The GFA confirms that anyone born in the British occupied six counties has the right “to hold both British and Irish citizenship.” But recent events around Britain’s decision to leave the European Union have exposed what Republicans have always known; that Britain signed this treaty in bad faith and had no intention of honouring its terms when honouring them challenged its own political interests. In this, then, the DeSouzas and everyone else in the six counties who see themselves as Irish are collateral in yet another British betrayal of Ireland.

Back in 2015 she applied for a residence card for her husband Jake, a US citizen, but the Home Office rejected the application because she identified herself as an Irish citizen. Apparently, the Home Office hadn’t received the memo and was treating everyone born in the six counties as British citizens. So, she was made an offer she could only refuse; to reapply identifying herself as a British subject or to renounce her British citizenship altogether and then reapply as an Irish citizen – effectively making herself a legal immigrant in the city and country of her birth. Of course, this came as something of a shock to her, as she had never considered herself a British citizen. Renouncing it would mean accepting as a matter of fact and law that she is a British citizen. She certainly spoke for everyone else in her situation when she: “I discovered that my lifelong Irish identity is evidently considered secondary to an unclaimed British identity.”

The text of the GFA is clear and unambiguous:

The two Governments [Ireland and the UK] recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

But the recent ruling against her found that the 1981 British Nationality Act already addresses the question of her citizenship and that, in British law, the GFA – which should have superseded the Nationality Act – has no bearing on the British state considering her a subject of the Crown.

What this means for Irish people – who identify as Irish – born in and living in the British occupied six counties is that, in order to be Irish in Ireland, they will have to make themselves stateless by continuing to reside at home without citizenship rights. The British thinking behind this follows a very particular logic and is completely consistent with the colonial project of dispossession which brought about the partition of Ireland and the creation of ‘Northern Ireland.’ The logic follows that this is an Ulster Protestant land for an Ulster Protestant people, that the “native Irish” must move – “to hell or to Connaught” – to make way for the Plantation. This is as it always was the logic of ethnic cleansing, and serves to show us that Britain has not changed its attitude to Ireland since 1999.

What the British government seems to forget in this is that its Plantation and its horrific treatment of Ireland and the Irish people was the reason for perfectly legitimate resistance and centuries of violence culminating in the Troubles and ultimately the Good Friday Agreement – a ceasefire agreement. Britain wants to leave the European Union and make a future for itself in a new kind of isolation. Britain is perfectly entitled to do this. But it is not entitled to force any part of Ireland to be British in order to achieve this. This process of undermining the GFA has already resulted in violence, and there is no reason to imagine that it will not result in further violence by Republicans defending their internationally recognised right to be Irish in Ireland.

Yes, this may come as a surprise to the comfortable classes, but the GFA has done sweet feck all to address the underlying issues of the conflict in Ireland. The DeSouza case simply lays bare the vulnerability of the fragile peace to Britain’s duplicity. It once again reminds Republicans of the necessity of Irish unification, as a united Ireland – entirely free of British rule – is, as it always has been, the only way to ensure the peace and security of Ireland. It remains our sincere hope here in Ireland that this will be brought about without further violence, but the terrifying reality – given the existence of the New IRA and other dissident Republican groups – is that the longer this uncertainty continues the less power we will have to hold the peace.

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British court rules northern nationalists are NOT Irish Citizens


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3 thoughts on “The DeSouza Case

  1. Emma must have such fortitude – just going to show “never judge a book by its cover”.
    What I find bizarre in this case is that Ireland have sat on the sidelines to date – leaving its citizens out to dry by another state when it is currently in negotiations with said state..

    “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests”.
    What too many repeatedly forget is that we are not included in those interests. Time and time again we are reminded that the powerful see themselves as the state…it is their interests. We only benefit on those rare flukes where our interests just happen to match theirs…but it is always theirs.

    Why do we fail to learn this lesson? Why are we so quick to forget?

    Liked by 2 people

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