The Guardian newspaper has today reported that the rights of Irish people in the UK and British citizens in Ireland are to be guaranteed in a Brexit side deal to be signed by the countries’ two governments. Sources say the memorandum of understanding will put the rights already conferred on citizens of both nations under the common travel area (CTA) on to a more secure footing.
According to the report, the deal will be signed by David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, and Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, in a meeting in London on Wednesday afternoon before the British-Irish intergovernmental conference. The conference was organised by the two governments after the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee by dissident Irish terrorists as part of a drive to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
The deal is the result of two years of work to ensure the rights both have under the CTA agreements and under EU freedom of movement are protected after Brexit. It will benefit the estimated 300,000 Britons living in Ireland and about 350,000 Irish people in the UK.
Sources have confirmed that Wednesday’s deal will mean arrangements to ensure reciprocal access to social insurance, child benefit and pensions continues, with a further deal promised on access to education and healthcare.
The Guardian claims that it has been widely assumed that this comes from the special historical links between the two countries and specifically the 1949 Ireland Act, which officially ended the country’s status as a British dominion, and a further series of immigration laws and bilateral deals.