So just what am I?

One of the side issues of the UK’s Brexit deal, is that EU citizens living in the UK will no longer be entitled to stay unless they are granted “settled status”. This is a new category of status that’s different to indefinite leave to remain. It is open to all EU residents who’ve lived in the UK for five years or more.

Applying is an easy process except it’s currently only available to users of Android devices. Oh and it costs £65 per adult. The Home Office insists that the starting position for applications, is that the applicant has the right to remain. But past Home Office and Government IT projects weren’t exactly without controversy.

However for me there’s a get out clause. Settled status won’t apply to Irish citizens because of a 1920s agreement that predates the EU.

I was born in Ireland, and despite having lived in the UK for over 50 years, I still hold an Irish passport. Yet here I am able to vote in UK elections. What’s more, that won’t change even if Brexit happens. My Austrian wife on the other hand, won’t have those rights after Brexit. She’ll have to apply for settled status or Irish citizenship.

This raised the question of identity. Just what am I? Cut me, and my blood is Irish. My maternal grandfather would probably disown me if I said otherwise. Yet I’ve a mix of Irish and English culture in me. I don’t speak more than a few words of Gaelic. I was educated in London. As a result I’ve learnt about Irish history from an English perspective. I’ve read unbiased work to fill in the gaps to see things from the other side, but I still don’t feel I know as much about Irish history as I should do.

I ask myself if I’m really English. I don’t think I am. So does that make me Irish? Well yes, but with an English slant. Personally I identify more as a Londoner than English. Actually I see myself as a south west Londoner. Well No. I’m a south west Londoner who enjoys his work, watching football, drinking the odd beer or two, and spending time with my family.

Does that make me Irish? Well, yes and no. I’ll never be anything other than Irish. I’ll maintain that passport as long as I’m able to. But who I really am is so much more than a legal piece of paper. I’m a citizen of the world.

3 thoughts on “So just what am I?

  1. It’s strange how people who migrate feel part of one country, two countries or “global”. I am an Englishman, born and raised in Cumbria. My wife is from Nepal, born and raised in Kathmandu. She has one passport, British. But we BOTH feel totally English, not British, not global. We’ve travelled the world, but home is home, and it’s here. For us anyway!

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    • From where I see things, national identity is more of an English issue. For example, most English folk can name Ireland’s national day but not their own. Ask them what being British / English means, and they’ll likely say fish n’ chips, and a pint in the pub. All perfectly valid answers. Perhaps those with a stronger feeling of identity, relate to being an historical underdog. It tends to focus the mind on what nationalism stands for. Thoughts?

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      • I think that what you describe about Englishness is broadly correct, as is your notion of identity probably correlating with being an underdog. However devolving powers to Wales and Scotland followed by the constant vitriol of the SNP have awakened English views. Brexit has hardened those views. But let’s face it the Braveheart image of Scottishness is about as meaningful as Englishness relating to fish and chips and a pint of real ale. Mind you …. I like both, but though I prefer a Premier Cru Pommard and Paella it doesn’t make me feel European. Thanks for answering my comment 👍🍷

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