OK, so in the early 2000s, I thought I would take up Irish citizenship on political grounds because Tony Blair took Britain into Iraq and I felt ashamed to be British. I got hold of the forms from the post office and only stumbled when I found that the Government required copies of my 1984 divorce papers, which I didn’t have. I could probably have applied again for them but I didn’t. So then about 14 years later, Britain did something equally shaming, in voting Brexit, and I decided to try again for Irish citizenship. In the intervening years, the forms had become pdf’s and the requirement for the old divorce papers had been dropped. The fee for applying (with or without success) had gone up to €175 and the fee for success had become €950. Since there are 250,000 UK passport holders living in Ireland apparently, this could potentially underwrite half the costs of the latest public sector pay rises.
So, besides the 17 page application form, I supplied: Copies of my own and Val’s long form birth certs and marriage certificate, certified by a solicitor, Three separate proofs of my address for each of the last 5 years (bills etc), two passport photos, certified by the solicitor, my own passport original, Val’s original passport, three months’ bank statements from all my bank accounts, An affidavit that I now hold one of the new Public Services Cards (a form of chipped ID introduced into Ireland recently), and a bankers draft for €175 (no other form of payment accepted).
All that done, I have since been asked to dig out three years of bank statements, showing my name and address on them. This might sound straight forward, but since internet banking came in, one can only download 15 months of statements (and these don’t have my name and address on). The branch apparently keeps these on file, but I am informed that I will need to have them stamped and a letter provided by the bank that I live at this address.
So I have to ask on what basis all this is needed. I have lived in Ireland for sixteen years and been married to an Irish citizen for 28 years. I’m eligible for citizenship on both counts. I have proved both to be true. I have paid taxes in Ireland for 16 years, spent my hard-earned and taxed income in the state and generated employment for others. I estimate my financial contribution to the state to be in excess of €500,000 in that time, excluding stamp duties and fees on the purchase and sale of two properties.
But Irish citizenship is a privilege not a right, it says on the website. I wonder if the vast number of Brits now looking to apply have made it unattractive for the Government to rubber stamp applications…
Since I started the process, I have become addended to the idea on an emotional level, though it began as a practical one, to do with access in Europe. I am disgusted by the Brexiteers, the racist rhetoric, the myopic decision based on ignorance and miss-information which led to such widespread suffering and economic doom, and potentially to the disintegration of the EU, something I hold dear. If I should fail because of some bureaucratice anomaly, such as the lack of an address, it will hurt I think.