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Citizenship campaigner Emma DeSouza interested in possible Seanad seat

DeSouza was involved in a legal battle with the UK Home Office until last month.

LAST UPDATE | 13 Jun 2020

CITIZENSHIP CAMPAIGNER EMMA DeSouza has expressed interest in being one of the Taoiseach’s 11 Seanad nominees.

DeSouza was involved in a legal battle with the UK Home Office over whether being born in the North automatically conferred a person with British citizenship.

There was speculation earlier that she was in the running to be one of the next Taoiseach’s nominees, after her name was reportedly put forward by a number of Fine Gael TDs.

However, party sources moved to distance themselves from that speculation this evening.

In a statement earlier, DeSouza expressed her interest in filling one of the remaining seats in the Seanad.

“As an independent advocate for the principles of the Good Friday Agreement and for the people of Northern Ireland I’d be delighted and honoured to receive such an invaluable opportunity,” she said.

“Now more than ever independent Northern voices are needed, as we face significant challenges in overseeing the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.

“It is my hope that the incoming Taoiseach will take into account these challenges and the benefit that having independent Northern voices would have in facing them. I also hope there will be a gender balance given the election results.”

She also said that as a citizens’ rights campaigner who has campaigned for the Good Friday Agreement’s principles to be fully realised, her nomination would be life-changing.

The Taoiseach of the next government is empowered to nominate 11 appointees but a new government has yet to be formed. It is expected at least one of these appointments will be from the North.

Ian Marshall, a Unionist farmer and anti-Brexit campaigner was a Senator in the last Seanad after being approached by Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.

DeSouza brought the citizenship rights of those born in the North to public attention after the Home Office rejected her husband Jake’s application for an EEA residence card in the North.

Although DeSouza was born in the North and has a right under the Good Friday Agreement to identify as either Irish or British or both, the UK classified her as being British.

Last month, the UK changed its immigration laws so that those in the North can now use a scheme designed for European nationals – the EU Settlement Scheme – to apply for residency for non-European spouses, without first having to renounce British citizenship.

The new rule effectively means people in the North now have an entitlement to be treated as Irish citizens under immigration laws if they so wish.

Contains reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha and Press Association.

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