The British Government conceded to our argument and amended domestic UK immigration law so that the people of Northern Ireland will be considered EU citizens for immigration purposes. This is a significant climbdown and sets a precedent for the birthright provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. Now everyone in Northern Ireland will be able to access EU family migration rights whether they identify as Irish or British or both.
As a result of this law change we were unable to proceed to the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland. This is because whilst our case has evolved to center on citizenship law it began as an application for an EEA residence card for my husband. This application would now be accepted and the courts will not hear a resolved case.
We know that some people will be disappointed that we weren't able to change domestic UK citizenship law but know that we are not giving up. We will continue to campaign through the WeAreIrishtoo campaign for substantive changes that protect everyone's right to be accepted as Irish or British or both. It will now be a political campaign instead of a legal one.
After the concession the Home Office incredulously requested we pay the Government’s costs. Our legal team wrote to the court which ruled that each party should bear their own costs. We've updated the goal amount on this page to try and raise enough to cover these outstanding bills. We want to thank everyone that has contributed so far--thank you.
The UK Government has been successful in overturning the Judgement in our favour. The Courts ruled on Monday 14th October that I and all the people of Northern Ireland are British citizens even if we identify as Irish.
The decision is based on the UK Government's failure to effectively implement the Good Friday Agreement into domestic UK law.
The birthright provisions, the right to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both does not exist in domestic UK law.
The British Government is attempting to rewrite this provision to mean a choice of identity but not a choice of citizenship.
The Good Friday Agreement is explicit, the people of Northern Ireland have the right to be accepted as Irish or British or both. I am an Irish national and won't accept the removal of my right to be accepted as such.
The decision is a fundamental breach of a core provision of the Good Friday Agreement that will have widespread ramifications across Northern Ireland.
We have to appeal, we need to appeal, we will appeal. To the Court of Appeal.
We started this page in October 2018 to help us prepare for a second appeal from the British Home Office against the right to be accepted as Irish under the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. Since then the department lodged two adjournments that resulted in our case being deferred and us still being charged legal fees.
Finally we made it to the Upper Tribunal on September 10th. We do not receive any financial assistance or legal aid and were represented by MSM law, barrister Helena Wilson and QC Ronan Lavery. Thank you to everyone who assisted us with our legal fees for this hearing.
However the CSO has stated the Secretary of state for the Home Department will immediately appeal any decision in our favour, taking us into the Court of Appeal which will be hugely expensive.
The intention of the Government is to take this all the way in the hopes that we will be unable to sustain the case financially. As a result I have amended our goal amount. We will also be looking at other funding options and do ourselves pay additional fees associated with our case ourselves.
This is our story
I am an Irish citizen, born in Northern Ireland, Irish by birth and Irish under the Good Friday Agreement - which protects the right for the people of Northern Ireland to be Irish or British or both. Yet the UK Home Office insist I am British and refuse to issue my husband an EEA residence card as the spouse of an EU national.
The objective of the Home Office - the British Government is for me to accept that I'm British, give up my basic human rights and for my husband to be deported.
It's been extremely difficult for us to reach out for help with this next hearing but after four years and with the level of representation the Home Office is coming in with we have had to expand our legal. We do not get financial assistance.
This legal wrangle started in 2015 with the Home Office refusing to accept me as an Irish citizen and refusing my American husband's application for a residence card, issuing him with a removal order and putting us and our families into a horrendous situation. You can read about the beginnings of our story here
During this time, the department kept Jake's passport for 2 years, we had no freedom of movement, no right to work and have spent the first 4 years of our marriage consumed by this legal battle.
We've been successful twice yet the Home Office continue to appeal against us, insisting that I am a British citizen and denying my EU and GFA rights as an Irish citizen.
At our latest hearing the Home Office had a team of 5 against us, including senior barrister’s. We've had to seek further representation which is a difficult financial burden for us.
We have not been granted legal aid and are receiving no financial support of any kind.
Further to our own case I have personally been campaigning against the hostile environment and seeking protections for the people of Northern Ireland.
Our rights under the Good Friday Agreement need protected now more than ever with Brexit looming and I will take each and every opportunity to lobby this issue in Westminster. These trips are not covered by any organisation or political party.
I put together the first #WeAreIrishtoo rallies in both London and Belfast
I also travelled to Brussels and Strasbourg to engage with MEPs on the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and citizens rights in Northern Ireland.
Further to me and Jake there are many families affected, many in the appeals process, all enduring unnecessary hardship and our case has the potential to change that.
Any support is so hugely appreciated from us both.
You can hear more during my All out Politics interview
- Joanne Ritchie
- Siobhan Massey
- Kevin Russell
- Jessica McKechnie
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom