Free State Citizens (Status).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 6th July 1922.

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Mr. G. MURRAY:

45.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the precise nature of the status acquired by a man who, under Article 3 of the Draft Constitution of the Irish Free State, has became a citizen of the Irish Free State: what rights an Irish Free State citizen possesses and to what responsibilities is he subject as distinct from the rights and responsibilities of a British citizen; and whether there is anything in the Canadian Constitution by which a man can become a Canadian citizen as distinguished from a British citizen?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The draft Constitution does not purport to define the rights and obligations of citizens of the Irish Free State. What it does do is to confer certain specified rights within the Irish Free State on a class described as citizens of the Irish Free State and to prescribe the conditions upon which persons are entitled automatically to such citizenship on the coming into force of the Constitution. The rights in question are the right to vote at Parliamentary elections, the right to a seat in either House on taking the oath prescribed by the Treaty and the right to free elementary education. All persons who are domiciled in the Free State when the Constitution comes into force become entitled to these rights irrespective of whether they are British subjects or not, provided they satisfy one of the other conditions in Article 3 as regards birth, parentage, or seven years' previous domicile. It is quite true that there may be British subjects then in the Free State to whom the conditions will not apply, and who therefore will not enjoy these rights, but the same State affairs could exist under the Canadian or other Dominion Constitutions. As regards the last part of the question, the Canadian Legislature has power to define who are Canadian citizens for certain purposes, and has, in fact, done so for the purposes of the Canadian Immigration Acts.

Mr. MURRAY:

Will it not create a good deal of difficulty for Irishmen coming over here who are only Irish citizens? What will be their position in this country? Will there be a consular representative to whom they can apply?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I do not think there will be any more difficulty than at present. There is now no inconvenience at all.