Over the last three years the Irish government has handed out thousands of passports to British citizens in wake of the Brexit referendum but have some recipients just been using them a kind of get out of jail free card? Ken Sweeney believes this is definitely the case.
In the last few days I came across a tweet from British author John O’Farrell. Mr O’Farrell had just uploaded a photo of his recently obtained Irish passport with the words “I am now a British AND Irish citizen of the European Union. Fuck you Nigel Farage!”
To be honest I’ve no idea who Mr O’Farrell is but I guess he qualified for Irish citizenship through some parentage or granny rule which is perfectly fine. I generally have no problem with the current policy of the Irish government issuing citizenship to British citizens who apply in the wake of Brexit. After all, if they qualify, then they absolutely are entitled to it.
What I do have a problem with is with is the nature in which people like Mr Farrell seem to be using my nations citizenship.
Brexit is a British internal civil issue.
The people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland along with Gibraltar voted to leave and while many of us here in Ireland were sad that it happened, it is beyond our control to influence any further outcome of that referendum.
So when I see the likes of Mr O’Farrell hoist up the symbol of my Irish sovereignty effectively as weapon against the likes of Nigel Farage, I view that as utter disrespect for what it stands for and what it means to be a citizen of Ireland. It took Ireland many hundreds of years for us to obtain our own sovereignty and we cherish it deeply. And when we welcome new citizens, it is a great celebration for us here in Ireland.
Each year, thousands of applicants from around the world come together in ceremonies across Ireland to celebrate becoming Irish citizens. Many arrive to escape tyranny, hardship, hunger or just to have a better life. Some have to wait many years in direct provision centres while their applications for citizenship is approved.
Others like my own Europa United colleague, Christos Mouzeviris are already EU citizens but because they have lived here for many years, have chosen to give something back and decide to chose to be Irish citizens as a way of saying thank you.
“When I landed in Ireland just over 15 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I have made the right choice.” Christos says. ” I moved from Greece, a country on the other corner of Europe to one with a different mentality. Yet, this was proved to be one of the best life choices I have ever made. Not that I had it easy all this time, or everything went according to plan and was rosy all the time. But after over a decade and a half, Ireland has become home. Moving here was a not only a life changing experience, but it helped me alter my mentality and how I see myself.
For me, it is not just a document; it is a confirmation that I belong to this country and I am being accepted as equal citizen and one of their own. It represents that Ireland is home and part of who I am; because that’s what it is.”
Our passport should not be used to smack some Brexiteer in the face with. It is a highly valuable and honoured document and not a weapon to show off on Twitter. Such use is not only disrespectful but also deliberately provocative.
Maybe next time, instead of tweeting “Fuck you Nigel Farage”, people like Mr O’Farrell should tweet should tweet “thank you Minster Coveney”.