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passport cheque Committee slams £1,300 British passport fee for Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland

Irish citizens living just over the border must take 'Life in the UK' test and attend citizenship ceremony

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Those who wish to identify solely as Irish must first declare as British under the current system

Those who wish to identify solely as Irish must first declare as British under the current system

Those who wish to identify solely as Irish must first declare as British under the current system

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster has slammed a quirk in the passport system which means people who were born in the Republic of Ireland but who live in Northern Ireland must pay £1,330 for a UK passport.

At the moment, Irish citizens must pass the Life in the UK test which requires a citizenship ceremony and costs £50.

On top of the test, a fee of £1,330 is required in order to obtain a passport.

The committee said the process did not take into account the unique relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the NI Affairs Committee, said the Good Friday Agreement stipulated that people should have the right to identify as either British or Irish

He said: “It's clear that the current approach towards citizenship issues from the Home Office has failed to consider the history, personal ties and movement of people between the two countries."

The committee also said it would recommend making it easier for people in Northern Ireland to renounce their British citizenship and to identify solely as Irish.

At the moment, in order to identify as Irish, one must first formally confirm they are British.

He added: "As a consequence, the government's universal approach to citizenship leaves some feeling unable to assert properly and simply their identity as either Irish or British or both."

DUP peer, Lord Hay, told BBC Radio Foyle he welcomed the recommendations from the committee.

Born in Donegal, the peer has lived in Northern Ireland for a considerable period of time and said the process of of getting a British passport was “fraught with insensitivity” and that the fee was “absurd” for those living in Northern Ireland who are originally from the Republic.

He added: “The key issue is that £1,300 puts a lot of people off in applying for British citizenship and the Home Office have had this issue for some time.

"It's a real barrier to people who simply want to register as a British citizen."

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