Irish people living in Britain have been assured that the UK’s vote to leave the EU will not affect their right to stay.
It is due to the 1949 Ireland Act, which predates the UK’s membership of the EU by 24 years.
The Ireland Act states that people born in Ireland are not treated as foreigners for the purpose of any UK law.
The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 also protects the right of people born in Northern Ireland to be citizens of both the UK and Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told the House of Lords: “We do have those strong ties between the UK and Ireland that predate the EU and also we remain fully committed to our obligations under the Belfast Agreement and we have no reason to suppose that the UK’s exit need affect those.
“It is that approach that we are absolutely taking in standing behind the Belfast Agreement and in relation to the rights that have existed up until now and it is very much the approach that we will be taking into the negotiations.”
The people of Northern Ireland – along with Scotland – voted to remain in the EU. However, they were narrowly outvoted by the English and Welsh, who chose too leave.
Mr Brokenshire said that it was important that the needs of the Northern Ireland people were fully taken into account as the UK negotiates its exit deal from the EU.
He said that the British and Irish governments have ‘underlined very clearly their desire to see the Common Travel Area continuing into the future’.
Robin Walker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union said that there would be no return to hard borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic – describing it as a ‘red line’.
He said: “There are very few areas if you think about it, some would argue too few, but there are very few areas where we have set out very clear red lines ahead of negotiations and this is one of them where we have been clear
“This is so important that we want to put it right up front and we want to recognise that actually returning to the hard borders of the past wouldn’t be an acceptable solution.
“So it’s something we have been determined to put out there and the engagement will absolutely be there between our department between the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) and between the Republic of Ireland to make sure we can get to the right place on this.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling