British Home Office must respect the Good Friday Agreement - Ó Donnghaile
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has lambasted the British Home Office for their eleventh hour appeal to the recent findings of an initial tribunal held in Belfast, which states clearly that the Good Friday Agreement supersedes the British Nationality Act.
Speaking in Belfast this afternoon Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;
"The initial tribunal came about after the refusal of the British Home Office to recognise Emma De Souza as an Irish only citizen, resident in the North. This is a right conferred onto her, and all of us born in Ireland, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Emma was applying to the British Home Office for a residency visa for her husband Jake.
"It is a sad reflection, on either the ignorance or the refusal of the British Home Office, to recognise the core legal components of the Agreement, that Emma was forced to endure months of trauma and uncertainty before ultimately having to proceed through the courts to clarify her rights.
"Today, on the last day available for them to do so, the British Home Office has lodged an appeal to the Tribunal hearing which upheld the legal basis for our rights as Irish citizens under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
"Why are they doing this?
"I have raised this case and indeed many others concerning the problems faced by Irish citizens resident in the North, with the Irish government on numerous occasions. As late as yesterday I put it to Minister Simon Coveney that he needed to act in order to defend the rights of all Irish citizens.
The Good Friday Agreement is abundantly clear. The findings of the initial tribunal hearing are clear. Emma De Souza and all of us who are Irish citizens resident in the North must be given the necessary protections, rights and equality we clearly need in order to guard against the kind of traumatic and unnecessary bureaucracy that has been witnessed with this case.
"I have written to Minister Coveney encouraging him to meet with the De Souza family in order to hear first hand the human side to this unnecessary case."