Gregory Campbell of the DUP continues to campaign for what he believes are the large numbers of southerners living in Northern Ireland who are just itching to take up naturalised British citizenship. This even though just 270 out of an estimated population of 40,000 took up the option last year. Campbell blames red tape for the low uptake and believes huge numbers would be prepared to hold a British passport.
“There are thousands who want this and would be entitled to it. They regard themselves as British culturally, but just happen to have been born on the wrong side of the border.”
Campbell previously launched a campaign for those Irish citizens born in the Irish Republic but now living in Northern Ireland who wanted an automatic right to British citizenship to send postcards to highlight their plight. While no postcards were produced subsequently, the issue of automatic British citizenship for citizens of the Irish Republic seems to remain an issue – for the DUP at least.
Campbell’s frustration seems to be mainly based on the fact that people from Northern Ireland have much easier access to Irish passports.
“There are people who have never lived there but can just apply to offices in Dublin and get it.”
In 2005, there 36,000 passports issued to people from Northern Ireland compared with 32,000 in 2004 and 28,000 in 2003.
The growing number comes partly from the Express Passport Service that was introduced to Northern Ireland’s post office network in 2003 and is still being expanded.
At the end of 2005, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that more than 200,000 people in NI held an Irish passport.