Irish Government must urgently invest in citizens’ rights - Ó Donnghaile
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney today, urging them to make practical investments in defence of Irish citizens in the North. Senator Ó Donnghaile’s letter reiterated his call for a dedicated “citizenship hub” that could provide services to people on their legal rights, protections and entitlements in the run-up to Brexit.
Speaking today Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said:
“The Taoiseach recently announced the need for a thousand new customs and veterinary jobs at ports in preparation for Brexit; this same kind of advance planning must be put in place, not just for goods and cattle but for citizens too.
“Currently there is massive uncertainty around the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens, resident in the North, after the Brexit fallout. People are deeply concerned and unsure and need practical support and assistance from government in this regard.
“These concerns have manifested themselves among civic nationalism, community and voluntary groups, the legal profession, academia and indeed certain sections of the media too.
“Government should also now actively consider recruiting legally trained staff who can guide and direct citizens, unsure about their status and situation as a result of Brexit uncertainty.
“The Taoiseach has stated publicly that people here will never again be abandoned by an Irish Government; at such a crucial crossroads in the Brexit negotiations, it’s past time that statement was put into action.
"I have previously raised the idea of a dedicated hub where support services can be centralised, using existing Irish Government facilities and infrastructure in Belfast. I have again put that suggestion to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in letters this morning.
“While the hub isn’t a resolution to these concerns, the government must take the firmest of stands in defence of rights, citizenship and the Good Friday Agreement at the negotiations and afterwards. A hub can act as an important support mechanism at a time of great demand and need for engagement from many thousands of Irish citizens.
“The government knows this is a rational call, they have the means, they should live up to their promises and show their own citizens they are standing with them.”