Scots are becoming Irish ahead of Brexit – Kezia Dugdale

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Applications for Irish citizenship are on the increase as people seek a safet net with Brexit looming, writes Kezia Dugdale

A belated happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Five-year-old Tom Forrester celebrates St Patrick's Day at the Pageant on Portobello Promenade. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Five-year-old Tom Forrester celebrates St Patrick's Day at the Pageant on Portobello Promenade. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Across the weekend, Edinburgh played host to a wide variety of Irish-themed events, all celebrating Ireland’s foremost patron saint. Whilst some baulk at the stereotyping and over-commercialisation of St Patrick’s Day, the thousands of revellers who came out for a pint of Guinness and a dance to Irish X Factor favourites Jedward, who played in one of the city’s bars, certainly enjoyed tasting a little bit of Irish culture, no matter the authenticity.

Labour would introduce new bank holidays to mark the patron saints of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland if we win the next general election, giving hard-working people an additional four extra days’ paid holiday.

Many of those with an Irish heritage, though, are seeking a deeper connection and in the wake of Brexit, applications for Irish citizenship from Scotland have substantially increased since the 2016 referendum.

Reports from the Irish consulate show that last year there were around 900 applications for Irish citizenship from Scotland, 19 times as many as there were in 2013.

These are applicants who have at least one grandparent born in Ireland, who can apply for Irish citizenship by having their name added to the register of foreign births. The true figure could be even higher as it doesn’t include those who have a parent born on the island of Ireland and can take a more direct route.

Those applying are seeking a Brexit safety net, to retain the rights and freedoms the EU awards its citizens. With ten days to go until we crash out of the EU, it’s now time to give the public a final say – May’s deal or remaining in the EU.

Trying times for rugby fans as Scotland miss out on famous win by a whisker

The Calcutta Cup fixture on Saturday afternoon, has to go down as the most engaging and stressful games of rugby I have ever witnessed. Going in I was hopeful for Scotland, but aware this has not been our greatest Six Nations campaign.

The first half saw Scotland play well, but not well enough against a strong England side. The half time score of 31-7 made it tempting to look away, but then something momentous happened. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the Scotland dressing room at half time. Whatever was said by Scottish Head Coach Gregor Townsend, to the Scots XV it certainly steeled them and they came out fighting.

Nimbly evading the English defence to equalise 31-31, it was truly unbelievable stuff. With three minutes to go the unthinkable happens, Scotland edge seven points ahead of England with the score now 31-38. This must be the greatest comeback in Scottish rugby history; they have to make it over the line now.

A nation held its breath, waiting for that elusive win over England at Twickenham, something last done in 1983.

However, absolute heartbreak, Scotland unites in a collective sigh with some added swearing. England claw back a draw with a try and conversion.

The Murrayfield win last year meant Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup, so a trophy presentation ensues without the usually prerequisite win.

Final score 38-38, but Scotland, ever glorious in sporting defeat can be proud of their extraordinary display on Saturday.