Ó Donnghaile to meet De Souza family
Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile, has called on the UK Immigration and Visa Department to “end its attempt to impose British nationality”, on an Irish woman and to stop “discriminating” against her and her husband on the grounds that she is an Irish national and grant them a visa to allow her husband to remain and work in Belfast.
The Seanadóir made the call this morning in the Seanad chamber while speaking about the case of Ms De Souza and her husband Jake, an American born national from Los Angeles.
Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:
“Ms De Souza through her solicitor applied for a Family Member Residency Card in December 2015 for her husband Jake.
"Her application was rejected on the grounds that Ms De Souza carries an Irish passport and defines herself as Irish.
"In their letter rejecting the application the Immigration and Visa Department said that Ms De Souza, who was born in Magherafelt in South Derry was “automatically considered a British citizen” and that she would have to renounce her British citizenship and reapply for the residency card.
"The wording of the renunciation form assumes the person to be a British citizen.
Ms De Souza has never identified herself as British or of dual nationality, Irish/British, as is her right under the Good Friday Agreement.
"She defines herself as an Irish national only.
"This is a matter of some significance because the Good Friday Agreement, which is endorsed by the Irish and British governments, makes it clear that people born in the north can “identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may choose and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both Irish and British citizenship is accepted by both governments.”
"This is a matter for the Irish government as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and it is also a matter for the British government because ones of its departments is deliberately or unintentionally misreading the Good Friday Agreement.
"The consequences for the De Souza family is that Jake De Souza cannot freely travel to the US because British immigration authorities have his passport for the last two years and will hold it until the application for residency is resolved.
"He was not unable to attend the funerals of two family members nor can he travel abroad.
"This is an intolerable situation for the De Souza family and I am calling on the minister for foreign affairs, Simon Coveney to intervene on the family’s behalf.
"I wrote to the minister seeking a meeting with him about the De Souza family. I am meeting the family next week.
"I am calling in the British immigration authorities to accept Ms De Souza’s Irish nationality and speed up the process of granting her husband a residency visa."