The law grants citizenship to individuals born in Northern Ireland under the same conditions as those born in the Republic of Ireland.Irish citizenship originates from Article 3 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State which came into force on 6 December 1922, however Irish citizenship applied only domestically until the enactment of the Twenty-sixth Amendment on 5 April 1935 which applied it internationally.
Irish passports were issued from 1923, and to the general public from 1924, but the British government objected to them, and their wording for many years.
Using an Irish Free State passport abroad, if consular assistance from a British Embassy was required, could lead to administrative difficulties.
In seeking to extend jus soli citizenship beyond the state’s jurisdiction, the 1956 Act openly sought to subvert the territorial boundary between North and South".
The implications of the Act were readily recognised in Northern Ireland, with Lord Brookeborough tabling a motion in the Parliament of Northern Ireland repudiating “the gratuitous attempt …
Also, while the Oath of Allegiance for members of the Oireachtas, as set out in Article 17 of the Constitution, and as required by Art.
4 of the Treaty, referred to "the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain", a 1929 memorandum on nationality and citizenship prepared by the Department of Justice at the request of the Department of External Affairs for the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation stated: The reference to 'common citizenship' in the Oath means little or nothing. There is not, in fact, 'common citizenship' throughout the British Commonwealth: the Indian 'citizen' is treated by the Australian 'citizen' as an undesirable alien.
except that "any such person being a citizen of another State" could "[choose] not to accept" Irish citizenship.
(The Article also stated that "the conditions governing the future acquisition and termination of citizenship in the Irish Free State [...] shall be determined by law".) While the Constitution referred to those domiciled "in the area of the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State", this was interpreted as meaning the entire island.
The Act also provided for open-ended citizenship by descent and for citizenship by registration for the wives (but not husbands) of Irish citizens.
The treatment of Northern Ireland residents in these sections had considerable significance for the state’s territorial boundaries, given that their "sensational effect …
With the enactment of the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948, and the subsequent passage of the Ireland Act by the British government in 1949, the state’s constitutional independence was assured, facilitating the resolution of the unsatisfactory position from an Irish nationalist perspective whereby births in Northern Ireland were assimilated to "foreign" births.