However, Miss Durkan claims that wider issues surrounding citizenship and compliance with the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement in the longer term still need to be addressed by the British Government.
Miss Durkan said: “The proposed changes to the Immigration Rules relating to rights retained by EU citizens and family members are most welcome.
“Indeed, the change will be a huge source of relief for those who may eventually be reunited with families after periods of much stress and uncertainty.
“The Home Office policy of essentially deeming anyone born in Northern Ireland British, regardless of their asserted Irish citizenship, was creating barriers for married couples and families.
“Tough decisions with regard to work opportunities and caring responsibilities were becoming increasingly challenging for these families who were living with day-to-day uncertainty.”
Miss Durkan added: “The Home Office policy of imposing British citizenship, and requiring those who do identify as British to renounce their British citizenship, also conflicted with fundamental tenet of the Good Friday Agreement, denying the people of the North their explicit right to identify and be accepted as British or Irish or both.
“The out-workings of the recent legislative change mean that people in Northern Ireland can access the scheme to retain EU rights whether they identify as Irish or British or both.
“However, the relevant scheme is time-limited, and therefore this is a short-term solution.
“This weekend marks the 22nd anniversary of the landmark internationally binding treaty that is the Good Friday Agreement.
“The reality is that two decades on, the British government has failed to give domestic legal effect to the key birthright provisions of that Agreement.”Tags: