Citizenship Reform: Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement

Constitutional Issues

1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

(vi) recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

Implementation History

1998

No Implementation

The referendum of 22 May 1998 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland approved the Good Friday Agreement, leading to the amendment of Article 2 and 3 of the Republic of Ireland’s Constitution and the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act (1920) from the British side. These constitutional changes, however, did not lead to the citizenship provision in the constitution.

1999

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2000

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2001

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2002

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2003

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2004

Full Implementation

The Irish government finally amended its constitution on 24 June 2004 (27th Amendment), which stated that an Irish parent born on the island was “entitled [to] be an Irish citizen” (McAuley and Tonge, 2010).12. With this amendment in the Irish Constitution, citizens of Northern Ireland could choose to be citizens of the UK, Ireland, or both.

2005

Full Implementation

The citizenship provision of the accord was implemented in 2004. 

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.