Boris Johnson's speech on Northern Ireland was "complete nonsense", says Emma DeSouza

8 November 2019, 15:58 | Updated: 8 November 2019, 16:00

Northern Irish Emma DeSouza, who will have to renounce her British citizenship in order to gain clarity on her rights, said Boris Johnson's speech about Northern Ireland benefitting from his deal was "complete nonsense."

"What's really happening here is, as you say, we're dealing with the fact that 21 years after the Good Friday Agreement it turns out the British government never mended their nationality laws to line up with that right under the Good Friday Agreement to be Irish or British or both," said Mrs DeSouza.

"It's not that we are not recognised as Irish citizens, because only the Irish state can decide who is and isn't an Irish citizen, but what's happening is the British government is imposing British citizenship on people that don't necessarily want it, such as myself who only see themselves as being an Irish citizen," she continued.

"With that additional citizenship, they're using that as a British first Irish second policy. With that additional citizenship they're blocking our rights to EU rights and entitlements."

Mrs DeSouza is currently having the right to family unification blocked as her husband, US-born Jake DeSouza, lost an immigration case - he had applied for residency rights in Northern Ireland under EU freedom of movement rules that allow spouses of EU citizens to forgo national immigration application.

However, the Home Office rejected this on the grounds that Emma DeSouza is a British citizen, not an Irish citizen, despite identifying chiefly as Irish.

"Boris is happy to come out and say we have all these rights but he knows it&squot;s not true," Emma DeSouza aid.
"Boris is happy to come out and say we have all these rights but he knows it's not true," Emma DeSouza aid. Picture: PA

She discovered through her case that to become a full Irish citizen in the eyes of the UK law, she has to denounce British citizenship. Technically, she could then be removed from Northern Ireland and deported to the Republic if she does this.

"British citizens in Northern Ireland won't have any freedom of movement; they won't be considered EU citizens," she said, "under the Good Friday Agreement there can be no differential or detrimental treatment between the communities and whether you're Irish or British or both you have to have the same rights."

"We're kind of being segregated and separated in to all these different categories of rights and that in itself is completely against the spirit and the letter of the Good Friday Agreement."

Emma DeSouza then listened to Boris Johnson's speech in Northern Ireland last night where he said: "You keep free movement, you keep access to the single market, but you also have, as it says in the deal, unfettered access to GB."

DeSouza said: "This is complete nonsense that they're saying. On one hand they're saying you will keep these rights, you'll keep freedom of movement, in letter, in practice, in law and in policy, all of that is not true if you look at the fact that people in Northern Ireland can't even access the EU Settlement Scheme, even though all other EU citizens can."

"Boris is happy to come out and say we have all these rights but he knows it's not true," she said.