Emma deSouza to speak at Belfast rally calling on British government to 'respect and uphold the Good Friday Agreement'

Emma DeSouza is due to speak at the rally

A RALLY is to take place in Belfast calling on the British government to "respect and uphold the Good Friday Agreement".

Co Derry woman Emma DeSouza, who is involved in a long-running citizenship dispute with the UK Home Office, will be speaking at the City Hall event on Saturday.

Lord mayor Deirdre Hargey, human rights lawyer Professor Colin Harvey and journalist Paul Gosling will also address the 'We Are Irish Too' rally at noon.

Ms DeSouza said they want to "make our voices heard".

The Magherafelt woman and her US-born husband Jake are in dispute with the British government after an application for his residence card was refused because Ms DeSouza's request was made as an Irish citizen living in the UK.

The Home Office said that as she was born in the north, she must reapply for the visa as a British citizen.

She maintains this undermines her Irish citizenship rights under the Good Friday Agreement.

A tribunal judge ruled in favour of the DeSouzas, but the Home Office was granted permission to appeal.

"The purpose of the rally is to ask the Westminster government to respect and uphold the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and to say no to becoming second class citizens," Ms DeSouza said.

"A failure to fully implement the agreement has left the people of Northern Ireland vulnerable as we lose the blanket of EU law.

"The birthright to be accepted as Irish or British or both was never legislated into UK domestic law. As a result we're exposed to a recent change in the immigration rules.

"The British government are using blanket British citizenship, irrespective of the Good Friday Agreement, to restrict access to EU rights domestically.

"This will create two tiers of Irish citizens. Those born in the south who will be able to retain their EU rights within the UK and those born in the north who will not.

"We've heard Westminster, the Irish government and the EU say our rights will be protected post-Brexit but in practice and in policy the opposite is happening.

"The issues surrounding citizenship, parity of esteem and the Good Friday Agreement are becoming the elephant in the room. We feel it's time to make our voices heard."

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