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Common Travel Area letter from Ambassador Adrian O'Neill

Following a recent article, the following is a letter from Ambassador O’Neill to the Irish World on the Common Travel Area.

There has been an increasing focus on the future of the Common Travel Area (CTA) in recent weeks. With the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, members of the Irish community living here in Britain understandably want clarity on the arrangements which will apply to them after Brexit.

I want to firstly assure your readers that intensive work is ongoing both with the UK Government and across Government Departments in Ireland to ensure that the necessary arrangements are made in both countries so that the CTA continues to function effectively after the UK leaves the EU - in all circumstances. No matter what happens in the Brexit negotiations, Irish citizens in the UK and British citizens in Ireland will continue to have access to their CTA rights. This has been affirmed by both Governments and has been specifically provided for by the UK Government in their “no deal” planning notices.

As readers will be aware, the CTA is a long-standing arrangement between the UK and Ireland, which means Irish citizens can move freely to live, work, and study in the UK on the same basis as UK citizens and vice versa. It provides for associated rights and privileges including access to employment, healthcare, education, and social benefits, as well as the right to vote in certain elections. The CTA is an arrangement that is valued on both islands and the continuation of this arrangement is a stated objective of both the Irish and UK Governments.

Many people have asked if this will be possible after the UK leaves the EU and the answer is yes. Maintenance of the CTA is a bilateral matter between Ireland and the UK and it is recognised in EU law by Protocol No. 20 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This was reaffirmed once again in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, which was endorsed by leaders of the UK and the EU 27 at the European Council on 25 November 2018.

In view of its importance to our citizens, maintenance of the CTA has been one of the Irish Government’s Brexit priorities from the outset. For its part, the UK Government has committed to updating domestic legislation, as necessary, to ensure that the agreed CTA rights and privileges are properly secured. This proofing work, both domestically in Ireland and with the UK, is now at an advanced stage. When this work is concluded, the Government of Ireland – and this Embassy – will update our citizens further without delay.

I know the UK’s proposed Settled Status scheme for EU citizens has been the source of considerable interest and perhaps confusion within the Irish community. The UK Home Office has already indicated that Irish citizens will not need to register or take any action under the Settled Status scheme (relevant UK Home Office link: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families). They will continue to hold their CTA rights which are not reliant on EU membership. However, as EU citizens, Irish citizens – if they so wish - will be able to apply under the Settled Status scheme when it is open for applications.

When the scheme opens and full clarity on the overall context is available, including on the rights provided for in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, it will be important for people to make a fully informed decision on whether they wish to apply having carefully considered all the information and their own personal circumstances. Circumstances which may be relevant include where an Irish citizen has close family members and/or dependents who are neither Irish nor British and hence are not covered by the CTA. Further information on this is available on https://www.dfa.ie/brexit/ and will be added to as more detailed information becomes available

The Common Travel Area has endured for almost a century, long before there was a European Union, and has proven to be flexible and adaptable. That adaptability has proved a strength and has allowed the CTA arrangements to evolve and take account of changing needs and circumstances. This is something which we believe is vitally important to maintain and I look forward to updating your readers and all Irish citizens further on this in the weeks ahead.

Yours etc.

Adrian O’Neill

Ambassador of Ireland to the UK

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Channel 4 - Brexit Debate 5th November

Channel 4 are producing a live debate show in Digbeth about what the UK thinks now about Brexit. They are looking for engaged voices to be part of their audience.

They are looking for people from the Irish community to join the debate, given that the Irish border is such a huge part of the Brexit negotiation.

The debate will be on Monday 5th Nov from 8pm-9pm in a venue in Digbeth, Birmingham (B5 postcode)

Anyone interested needs to email adam.smith@renegadepictures.co.uk asap so they can be issued with a ticket via email.

Some more info on the show:

"The backbone of the show will be an extensive survey carried out by Survation, looking at what people think of the government's approach to Brexit; whether they are happy with the latest plan and exploring attitudes to alternative courses of action . The survey will comprise of interviews with 20,000 people in every constituency of the UK, making it possible to examine attitudes on local, regional and national levels - the only one of its kind. We will have a local audience and Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosting with Sir John Curtice alongside analysing the results."

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3 Nights, 10 breweries, 8 bands

Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival, in association with DigBrew Co and Birmingham Irish Association, have secured 10 breweries, 8 Birmingham Irish bands and bucket loads of craic for their new OktoberFeis – an Irish music and beer festival. Popular Irish breweries including Galway Bay, Blacks and Rascals will be displaying the best of their brews, alongside the best of Birmingham Irish music!

The event will be held at DigbrewCo on River Street, Digbeth, over 26-28th October!

The full list of breweries involved is:

Rascals Brewing Co, Galway Bay Brewery, Lough Gill Brewery, Western Herd Brewing Company, Blacks Brewery & Distillery, Hope Beer, O Brother Brewing, ClonBrew, Dungarvan Brewing Company and DigBrew Co.

The mini Festival will take place at Digbeth’s only brewery, DigBrew Co, on River Street. Each evening will start with a meet the brewer event, with representatives from Hope, Lough Gill, Galway Bay and DigBrew Co, followed by live music from a variety of fantastic Birmingham Irish bands!

The bands performing will include: Josh Powell, Salt Creek, Reel Note Ceili Band, The Hurling Boys, James Reidy, Hooley, Lampa and The Deluge

The weekend-long event from 26th- 28th October will be raising money to ensure the much loved St Patrick’s Festival can continue for another year, with parade day this year falling on St Patrick’s Day itself - 17th March! Tickets are £5 a night or £10 for the weekend, with all proceeds from ticket sales going back into ensuring the St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s future is secure; Get your tickets from stpatricksbirmingham.com or oktoberfeis.com.

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New Memorial for the Victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings

New Memorial to be unveiled at New Street Station for the Victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings of 1974

On 21st November 2018 a new memorial to the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings will be unveiled in a ceremony outside New Street Station, exactly forty-four years after the atrocity took place.

Above: Front of New Street Station where the Memorial will be installed.

The memorial has been designed by local artist Anuradha Patel who already has a number on works on display across the West Midlands including the Aspire sculpture at Hawthorns railway station. Anuradha has worked closely with the victims’ families and Birmingham City Council, and the new memorial entails a grove of sculptured metal trees with the names of the twenty-one victims engraved on the leaves. Seating will be built into the base of two of the trees providing visitors a place to rest and contemplate.

Network Rail is funding the artwork’s installation in keeping with its section 106 planning obligations agreed with the city council as part of the New Street station upgrade. The New Street station site was selected because of its prominence in the centre of the city.

Above: Layout of the three trees.

The impetus for the new memorial has come from the leaders of Birmingham’s Irish communities. Following historical research into the after-effects of the bombings by Professor Gavin Schaffer and Dr Saima Nasar at the University of Birmingham, Irish community leaders came together with victims’ families under the leadership of Birmingham Irish Association’s Maurice Malone, to create a new monument to the victims.

Above: Mock-up of an individual leaf

Julie Hambleton who has been representing the families of those who lost their lives said "The families have always had a dream of healing the fractured community of Birmingham that has existed since the pub bombings in 1974. This new Memorial is not only to remember those who were slain in cold blood but to illustrate how the communities in Birmingham, continue to support each other, no matter what”

Maurice has led what has become known as the Misneach Memorial Committee to create this new memorial, which, it is hoped, will serve as a mark of respect to all those who have suffered as a result of the bombings, and demonstrate the enduring unity and resilience of Birmingham’s communities.

Reflecting on the project so far Maurice said “As a group incorporating the Irish community, the victims’ families, the city, and the university, we wanted to create an inclusive and healing memorial which could reflect both the damage the pub bombings did to our city, and the hope we have for the future”.

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Road plan ‘bombshell’ for Warks GAA

Highways England's plans to build a relief road off junction six of the M42 will have a "hugely damaging effect on Pairc na hEireann (...) stakeholders and consequently the sustainability of Gaelic Games (a minority sport), in Warwickshire."

Warwickshire GAA Secretary Michael Colling said "We feel strongly that the new proposals will impact negatively on both the environment and the accessibility of Pairc na hEireann", He added, "without people (players and spectators) we will have no games".

The Trustees and Officers of Warwickshire County Board believe the only viable solution, to preserve the sporting facilities, heritage, cultural fabric and harmony of our current facilities, is a well-executed, relocation of our grounds. "A well-executed Compulsory Purchase Order leaves the individual is a no worse off state, this cannot be said of Highway England’s current proposals for Pairc na hEireann."

The hugely important monument to deceased members, currently symbolically situated at the highest point on our facility, will also have to be re-sited.

The Warwickshire GAA County Board have asked as many members and acquaintances as possible to do two simple but hugely effecting tasks to support our ongoing fight.

Please be aware that consultation closes on October 2nd so could all concerned please complete same within this timeframe.

1. Contact as many MPs as possible by asking them to write to the Secretary of State for Transport stating why the current offer being proposed does not leave the 3000 Warwickshire GAA membership and the 12,000 GAA members nationally in an equivalent position to that which it was in before the development and because of this in conclusion that the reconfigured site is not, in fact, a reasonable alternative and therefore decide that the preferred location is the only realistic option. 

2. Complete the online response form found at

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/m42-junction-6-improvement-additional-consultation/

again stating the facts above and informing why the GAA needs a relocation due to the following issues

• the fabric of our oasis-like rural recreational facility boarding on a minor B road some 30m away will be replaced by a 2000 cars per hour 4 lane dual carriage within 5 metres of our Main County Pitch, with pitch two covered in concrete and pitch three reduced to that of a juvenile training pitch.

• Noise and Air pollution coming from the dual carriageway will affect the hearing, lungs and performance of all users and visitors to Pairc na hEireann, especially our youngest members, despite the best scientific advances in emission technologies and motorway design.

• No thought as to where our beloved monument might be replaced.

• No thought as to the safety of road users with sliothars (Hurling balls) travelling at over 150km/h (93 mph) and over 110m (361ft).

• No thought to the current safety features of our site with our nearest pitch being placed 30 metres away from the B road.

• No thought to the suitability of lands adjacent to our current facility - to the north underneath the flight path, to the west on a disused land fill completed before safe dumping regulations were in place, to the south above an oil pipeline of national infrastructural importance serving the airport.

"The only alternative to preserve the fabric of what we currently have is a relocation; this is the only viable solution that leaves us in an equivalent position; all other proposals leave Warwickshire GAA worse off. This is clearly not within the remit of a well executed Compulsory Purchase Order. We demand to have a facility of equivalent benefits."

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Fundraising Father and Son team to scale 3 Welsh Peaks

Father and son team Mick and Deaglan O’Brien are planning to scale the Three Welsh peaks in 24 hours to raise money for the St Anne’s Centre at Birmingham Irish Association; where they provide care support to elderly Irish. You can support them here.

Spurred on by successfully raising over £2,500 last year on their climb of the Three Yorkshire Peaks, Mick and Deaglan have set themselves a higher donation target and a higher ascent target!

“Last year’s challenge raised well over an amazing £2,500 for Birmingham Irish Association and in particular its Dementia support service. The money raised contributed to the service being able to provide daycare support to individuals suffering from this terrible illness.” Said Mick O’Brien, “Thanks to generous donations such as this now operates 4 days a week from its central base in Digbeth and a new Centre in South Yardley.”

Mick and Deaglan’s efforts last year were particularly brave as their climb coincided with the arrival of Storm Brian; 50mph gusts, torrential rain and practically zero visibility.

This year, The Welsh Three Peaks challenge includes a total walking distance of 17 miles (27.4km) and an ascent of 2334 metres (7657ft), in less than 24-hours. That's more ascent than the Yorkshire Three Peaks over a shorter walking distance. The challenge takes in the three peaks of Wales: Snowdon in the North, Cadair Idris in mid-Wales, and Pen y Fan in the South.

The money raised will go towards operating the St Anne’s Centre at Birmingham Irish Association. The Centre provides culturally specific care support for elderly Irish people with dementia. Clients are looked after by a team of fully trained staff and volunteers, provided with a hot meal and encouraged to take part in mentally and physically stimulating activities. Clients can also be picked up and dropped off by minibus if they are on the route!

To donate to Mick and Deaglan's campaign, visit their 'Just Giving' page here.

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Caranua Application Deadline 1st August

Following the recent publication of Minister Bruton’s Review, the Board of Caranua have announced that Caranua requires survivors who want to apply for funding supports from Caranua must complete and return an application form to apply for services by Wednesday 1st August 2018.

Please follow this to an ISL video by the Irish Deaf Society with this information. (Many thanks to the Irish Deaf Society for allowing us to share this on our website). https://vimeo.com/272957193

Additional ISL videos on our application process can be found by following this link: http://caranua.ie/how-to-apply/accessible-information/

The following are some questions and answers about how to apply to Caranua if you haven’t already done so and if you have already sent in your application to Caranua:

Is Caranua closing on 1st August 2018?

No. Caranua is not closing on 1st August 2018.

Caranua is asking survivors who have not yet applied for support funding to send in their application form to us by Wednesday 1st August 2018 to ensure that your application can be processed.

I have not applied to Caranua yet, how do I apply?

Please contact us as soon as possible. You can contact us by phone, email or post. Our office hours are 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Caranua can offer support, information, advice and advocacy services to survivors. The help we provide will depend on the needs and circumstances of each survivor eligible to apply to Caranua but the areas we can help with are:

Health and Wellbeing

Housing Support

Education, Learning and Development

Socially Active & Connected

To be eligible to apply, you must have spent time in an institution as a child, and received an award through settlement, Court or the Residential Institutions Redress Board in relation to your time in an institution.

If you have access to the internet you can download the Application Form Part 1 from our website www.caranua.ie here: http://caranua.ie/how-to-apply/how-do-i-make-an-application/ and email it back to apply@caranua.ie or post it back to us at Caranua, PO Box 12477, Dublin 1, Ireland.

If you would like us to send you a paper copy of the form just phone, email or write in to us, and we will post one out to you.

We will use the details you give us in the Application Form Part 1 to verify that you are eligible to apply to us. We also need to establish your identity to make sure that no one else is making an application in your name. When we receive your form, we will contact you within ten working days to let you know if you are eligible, or if we need more information.

You can send us in your identification documents with the Application Form if you like, or after you are verified as eligible we will contact you and ask for them.

We need two types of identification documents. You do not need to send us the original document, a copy is fine.

One document must show where you live. For example, you could send us a bill with your name and address on it.

The other document must have your photo on it. For example, you could send us a copy of your passport, or your bus pass.

When you send us your identification documents we will contact you within ten working days to tell you we have received them.

I have already sent in my Part 1 application Form and identification documents to Caranua, what do I need to do now?

Thank you for sending in your application to Caranua.

If you have received the following correspondence from us you do not need to contact us as your application has been received:

If you have received a letter from Caranua confirming your eligibility to apply to us and that we have received your identity documents, you do not need to contact us as your application has been received.

If you have received a letter from Caranua confirming that you will be assigned an advisor to help you with your application, you do not need to contact us as your application has been received.

If you haven’t received any of the correspondence listed above, please contact us as soon as possible to allow us to update you on your application with Caranua.

If you get through to our voicemail, please leave your number and let us know if it is ok to leave a message. We will call you back within 24 hours. If we cannot leave a message, we will try to contact you three times.

I have sent in my application and I received a letter that says I am eligible to apply, when will I be assigned an advisor?

Applications for support funding are assigned in order of the date you are deemed eligible to apply to Caranua.

The Board of Caranua have agreed to prioritise survivors who are first time applicants as they have not received any support from the Fund. This is to help Caranua towards ensuring that the remainder of the Fund is distributed as fairly and as equally as possible as the Fund is limited.

If you are not sure when you applied to Caranua please contact us and we will be happy to give you an update.

I am working with an Application Advisor; do I need to contact Caranua about this letter?

No, if you are currently working with an Application Advisor, you do not need to contact us. If you have a question for your Application Advisor about your application they will be happy to answer this for you.

I sent in my application form to Caranua but I have not been in contact for some time. What do I need to do now?

Thank you for sending in your application form to Caranua. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your application particularly if your contact details have changed as we may have been trying to contact you.

I have already reapplied for more services from Caranua, what do I need to do now?

The Board of Caranua have agreed to prioritise survivors who are first time applicants as they have not received any support from the Fund. This is to help Caranua towards ensuring that the remainder of the Fund is distributed as fairly and as equally as possible as the Fund is limited.

All reapplications sent into Caranua from survivors who have already received support are reviewed, but the processing timeframe for reapplications remains longer than a first-time application.

If you have re-applied for services from Caranua after 1st June 2016, your application will come under the 2016 criteria for funding support and the maximum amount of funding available in total for services is €15,000.

Due to the limited amount of the Fund remaining Caranua are unable to accept any more reapplications after 1st August 2018.

I know someone whom may be eligible to apply to Caranua. How can I help them apply?

Please ask them to contact us before 1st August 2018. The confidentiality of survivors who apply to us is very important. For this reason, we never share or discuss information about any individual, without their written permission.

My family member/ friend has applied for services but has not received this letter from Caranua

If your family member/ friend has not received a letter from Caranua please ask them to contact us and we can provide them with the information that is relevant to them. The confidentiality of survivors who apply to us is very important. For this reason, we never share or discuss information about any individual, without their written permission.

I have an appeal in progress about part of my application, what do I do now?

If you have a query about the status of a current appeal you should contact the Appeals Officers directly. The Appeals Officers are appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills and the appeals process is completely independent of Caranua. The Appeals Officers can be contacted in writing.

The email address for the Appeals Officer is caranuaappeals@education.gov.ie

The postal address is:

Department of Education and Skills

Cornamaddy

Athlone

Co Westmeath

Ireland

What has the Fund been spent on?

Caranua regularly publishes updates on how the Fund has been spent. These updates can be found on the website on the News and Monthly Updates sections.

Caranua has received almost €103M of the committed €110M contributions from the religious congregations.

Caranua was established under, the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act, 2012 (Section 30), which states that all administration costs must be paid out of the Fund. Almost €8M has been spent on the administration of the Fund (including postage, printing, telephone costs, utilities, outreach events, staff costings, office accommodation, ICT, external audit, independent Appeal Officers costs etc).

The following has been spent on services for survivors who have applied to Caranua:

As at 30th April 2018, a total of €80.3 million had been spent, €72.5 million has been spent on services for survivors who have applied to Caranua

Health €19.7 million

Housing €51.3 million

Education €1.3 million

Exceptional Needs €0.19 million

What will the remainder of the Fund be spent on?

There are over 2,000 survivors currently working with an application advisor. The majority of the remaining Fund will be spent on their funding supports.

With the remaining Fund, the Board wants to strengthen our efforts to ensure any survivors who may be eligible to come forward and apply to the Fund.

Administration costs will also have to come out of the Fund, because the legislation that Caranua was established under (the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012) states that all administration costs must be paid out of the Fund.

Will you be placing adverts in the newspapers to inform eligible survivors about the application deadline?

Adverts were placed in the Sunday newspapers in Ireland, two in Northern Ireland, two in UK and one in USA on Sunday 9th June.

While we would have preferred to place advertisements in all relevant national and local newspapers, we were aware that any money spent on advertising must come out of the Fund. Therefore we decided that this was the most cost effective way to share this information.

We are also in contact with many services in relation to the application deadline, asking them to share this information through their networks, which helps us to reduce the amount of the Fund we spend on advertising.

Caranua’s contact details are:

Freephone from Ireland 1800 212477

Freephone from UK 0808 234 1303 (Charges may apply from some mobile networks)

From anywhere +353 1 8742277 (not a free-phone number from outside Ireland and the UK)

If you get through to our voicemail, please leave your number and let us know if it is ok to leave a message. We will call you back within 24 hours. If we cannot leave a message, we will try to contact you three times.

Address:

Caranua, PO Box 12477, Dublin 1, Ireland

Fax +353 1 874 5709

Email info@caranua.ie

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Trip to Birmingham Trad Fest Returns!

The Trip to Birmingham TradFest returns for it’s 5th year!

The Trip to Birmingham TradFest is returning for it’s 5th year, and the line-up for 2018 and it is a belter! The 2018 TradFest will run from 22nd-25th November and feature well known traditional Irish artists; Four Men and a Dog, Brid Harper, Damien Mullane, Dermot Byne & Steve Cooner, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and many more!

Tickets for the festival are now ON SALE and Early-Bird weekend tickets are also available for a limited period! Organisers have advised that there are only a limited number of Early-bird tickets available so make sure you snap them up as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

“It is our honour and pleasure to host yet again another weekend of Traditional Irish Music for the UK’s Second City. With the line up now pretty much confirmed and tickets on sale, we’re busy working behind the scenes curating a festival to which we hope will exceed all of your expectations. It promises to be a top quality of Traditional Irish music which we hope to share with as many people as possible in November.

As with every year, from all of us here at the Trip to Birmingham TradFest, we would like to thank each and every person who supports us any way each year! For now, spread the word and get yourselves booked up… See you in November!”

Dan, Ciaran, Hugh, Conor, Lenora & Ted.

The Trip to Birmingham TradFest committee.

All tickets available via www.birminghamtradfest.co.uk

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Letter from the Ambassador to the Irish community in Britain

It has been almost a year since I had the honour of becoming the Ambassador of Ireland to the UK, and what a wonderful year it has been. Together with the team at the Embassy, I have travelled across Britain working to strengthen the cultural, economic and political ties between Ireland and the UK. In the process, I have met countless members of the Irish community here and witnessed the impressive scale of achievements of Irish people in every walk of life. There is no doubt that the Irish community has contributed greatly to British society in all areas. I am proud of that contribution and thank you for it.

In the course of my many conversations with Irish people here, I have frequently been asked about the potential impact that Brexit may have on Ireland and on the daily lives of the Irish in Britain.

The Irish Government’s objective in these negotiations is to do whatever we can to ensure an orderly Brexit that does not damage Ireland’s fundamental national interests – safeguarding the peace process, maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA), protecting Ireland’s trade and economy and ensuring the closest possible future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Whether you were in favour of Leave or Remain, the reality is that the UK’s decision to leave the EU has the capacity – if not properly managed - to disturb the delicate and complex balance of the Good Friday Agreement. Therefore, the aim of the Irish Government has been to conserve what we have enjoyed for the last 20 years – an evolving peace process, a Good Friday Agreement that has transformed life for the better, and an open and invisible border that is both a cause and reflection of that transformation.

In the negotiations, the EU has proposed a backstop solution for Northern Ireland that contains all of the elements necessary to ensure this status quo remains and that will apply unless and until another solution is found. I assure you that this proposed backstop, as set out in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, fully respects the Good Friday Agreement; the EU would not have proposed it, and Ireland would not be supporting it, if it did not. It simply sets out the practical and technical measures needed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and in no way affects the status of Northern Ireland as part of the UK. Under the Good Friday Agreement, the constitutional status of Northern Ireland can only be changed with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

As recently as last week, Prime Minister May reiterated her commitment to ensuring there is no hard border in Ireland, and has also committed to having a legally operable backstop in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, which we welcome. For final agreement to be reached, delivering on these commitments will be essential.

The Irish Government is also working to ensure that the status of Irish citizens in the UK is preserved post-Brexit. Since long before Ireland and the UK joined the EU, the Common Travel Area (CTA) has allowed Irish and British citizens to move freely, reside in either jurisdiction and access associated rights and entitlements, including those related to employment, healthcare, education and social benefits, as well as the right to vote in certain elections. It also underpins the rights of those born in Northern Ireland to be British or Irish or both.

In December of last year, the EU and the UK agreed that the CTA and associated rights and privileges can continue to operate. The UK Government has confirmed that Irish citizens will not need to apply for the “settled status” scheme (which has been established for other EU citizens living in Britain) although they can if they wish to. This was re-confirmed most recently in the UK’s White Paper on the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU, which states that the CTA means that Irish citizens will continue to hold their current status in the UK.

In the months ahead, the Embassy will share further information on the completion of the work underway to ensure that the CTA continues to function effectively, so that Irish and UK citizens can continue to enjoy access to the arrangements in each other’s countries that we so value. Where you have concerns or questions, I encourage you to highlight those to us, either through the Embassy or Irish community organisations. We have also developed a Brexit website which I hope you will find useful and informative.

Ambassador Adrian O'Neill

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Ambassador Visits Birmingham Irish

Adrian O’Neill, Irish Ambassador to the UK, visited the Birmingham Irish Association this month to meet the Irish community and promote the good work they do in the West Midlands.

The Ambassador met with staff and volunteers from Birmingham Irish Association and was briefed on their continued good work in the community including their health care team, benefits advice team, dementia centre project, the development of their Irish event app and website, and a growing partnership with the St Patrick’s Festival.

Ambassador O’Neill met with volunteers and clients of the adjacent St Anne’s Centre; a support centre run by Birmingham Irish Association providing cultural care to elderly Irish people:

“I was delighted to visit the Birmingham Irish Association. This was my first visit to the organisation and I was pleased to experience the range and breadth of services provided by the BIA first-hand. I am very proud that through ESP we support the Birmingham Irish Association, who play a pivotal role bringing the Irish community together.

The range of front line services, advice and welfare programmes run by the Birmingham Irish is truly impressive. The dementia project, which I was able to see first-hand during my visit, provides care and support for some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The value of the work you do here cannot be overstated.

I would like to express my deep admiration and appreciation for the work that all of you do throughout the year. Thank you to Pat and Maurice, and all of the volunteers who selflessly give their time to the organisation for everything that you do - beidh mé ar ais arís!”

Maurice Malone, CEO of Birmingham Irish Association gave the ambassador a tour of the premises, and briefed him on the current success and the ongoing projects of the organisation:

“It was an honour to host a visit from Ambassador O’Neill, and we hope he enjoyed his trip. We are all very proud of the service we provide to the community and the hard work of our staff and volunteers, and we hope that the Emigrant Support Program will continue to support us for years to come.”

Birmingham Irish Association is the Midlands' leading charity providing welfare and cultural services to the Irish community. Based in the Irish Quarter in Digbeth, Birmingham. Their aspiration is to be the service of choice for all Irish people seeking advice, support and information.

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