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The status of the Irish Free State as a dominion within the British Commonwealth was seen by the British authorities as meaning that a "citizen of the Irish Free State" was merely a member of the wider category of "British subject"; this interpretation could be supported by the wording of Article 3 of the Constitution, which stated that the privileges and obligations of Irish citizenship applied "within the limits of the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State".

Irish nationality law is contained in the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2004 and in the relevant provisions of the Irish Constitution.

A person may be an Irish citizen through birth, descent, marriage to an Irish citizen or through naturalisation.

The 1922 Constitution provided for citizenship for only those alive on 6 December 1922.

No provision was made for those born after this date.

This was because the Constitution was formally governed by the terms of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which stated that "the powers of the Parliament and government of the Irish Free State shall not be exercisable as respects Northern Ireland" before 6 January 1923, unless in that time both the two Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland had exercised a right to present an address to the King that "the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland".

The two Houses exercised that right within two days of the Constitution coming into force on 6 December 1922.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.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.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".

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