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Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness to make it easier to be British

Sinn Fein is launching a push for people born in Ireland to be allowed to claim British citizenship and passports if they wish - and joining forces with the DUP to push the issue.

"If people want to claim a British identity they shouldn't have to pay a fortune to do so," deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said.

He has teamed up with Gregory Campbell of the DUP to demand changes to the law.

Currently anyone born in the Irish Republic after 1946 has to pay a £860 naturalisation fee before they are entitled to a British passport.

However people born in Northern Ireland can have an Irish passport as of right.

One of those who suffers under the rule is Willie Hay, the speaker at Stormont.

The DUP politician was born in Donegal and still remains an Irish citizen and passport holder.

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"I have tried for some time to get a British passport and I have been refused. It is totally crazy," Mr Hay said.

He explained: "Gregory Campbell and I have been raising it for years but I never thought I'd see the deputy First Minister taking it up. It is unbelievable really."

Mr Campbell raised the issue to the deputy First Minister in the Assembly some weeks ago.

"I invited him to come and talk to me and two days later he contacted my office.

"We had a meeting here a few days ago and now I am fully supportive," Mr McGuinness said.

He added: "I have already been in touch with the Taoiseach's office seeking their support.

"I'd like to make joint representations to the British Government and I hope they will recognise that, in the context of the small number of people who are affected, this fee should be waived.

"We are taking it straight to Downing Street."

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