A Little About Us
And What We Hope to Achieve
Founded by Emma and Jake DeSouza, the We Are Irish Too campaign seeks resolution for a failure in the legislative implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
For going on half a decade now my husband Jake and I have been fighting for the protection of Article 1 of the Good Friday Agreement through the British courts. We fell into a legislative gap when me and my US husband Jake married in 2015, we had no inkling our newly formed life together would become ensnared in a constitutional test of the Good Friday Agreement.
Our case began when we applied for Jakes EEA residence card to remain in Belfast, this application was refused by the British Home Office on the grounds that I am considered automatically a British citizen, having been born in Northern Ireland. I have never held a British passport or claimed British citizenship, I am an Irish citizen only who has only ever been such. The right to identify as and be accepted as Irish or British or both is a fundamental provision of the Good Friday Agreement, an international peace treaty registered at the UN. We appealed the Home Office decision on those grounds and won in 2017 with a Judge ruling that the Good Friday Agreement, as a constitutional document, supersedes domestic legislation. The Judge ruled that I am an Irish citizen only.
The Home Office appealed this decision, instead of addressing the implementation gap and giving domestic legal effect to the birthright provisions of the Good Friday Agreement the government opted to challenge both its scope and intent. After years of appeals the Home Office has successfully argued that Northern Ireland citizens have no right to choose their nationality, regardless of the birthright provisions outlined in the Good Friday Agreement. Rather, they are permitted to identify on a personal level as Irish, yet are in fact British at birth.
This sets a dangerous legal precedent, reducing an integral right to choose one’s own national identity – in this case, to identify as and be accepted as Irish – into a right to merely “feel” Irish.
What began as an immigration case has morphed into a constitutional test of the Good Friday Agreement, the first human rights case. This challenge has framed the first five years of our marriage, securing a successful outcome that reaffirms our rights under the Good Friday Agreement and results in the full implementation of the agreement is fundamentally important to us both. Which is why we are proceeding to the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland and challenging the Government’s position.
The British government has habitually challenged the birthright to be accepted as Irish or British, or both, and we've made it our aim to bring the right to be accepted as Irish or British or both into domestic UK law, as enshrined in the agreement.
Or main goal is to encourage equality in Northern Ireland, in line with the commitments signed by the UK government.
In May of 2020, the British government changed domestic UK immigration law, and as a resul, NI-born British and Irish citizens will now be treated as EU Citizens for immigration purposes. This represents a significant climb-down by the Home Office, and sets a precedent for the birthright provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.
The new change doesn't however change domestic citizenship law.