Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 14:23 UK

ID card 'recognises Irish rights'

Home Secretary Alan Johnson holding a UK ID Card
Name please: Alan Johnson with his ID Card

People in NI who identify themselves as Irish will be issued with a different version of the ID card which the Government is planning to introduce.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled the final design of the controversial national ID card.

The Home Office said the scheme must "recognise identity rights" as laid out in the Belfast Agreement.

That means Irish nationals living in NI will be issued with a "personal ID card" rather than a national ID card.

The personal card will not record an individual's nationality and so cannot be used as a travel document.

Only the Irish Government can issue an official travel document to Irish citizens.

However, cardholders will still be registered on the British ID national database and so will be able to use the card to prove their identity.

Symbols

The Home Office is also going to assure those who hold Irish nationality or dual citizenship living in Britain that they will continue to have the right to apply for an Irish passport even though they are on the UK national identity register.

The union flag does not feature in the card design with the Home Office saying "we have sought to avoid symbols such as flags".

Instead the design features the Royal Coat of Arms alongside a pattern made up of the shamrock, daffodil, thistle and rose to represent the four countries of the UK.

Ministers plan to launch the £30 biometric ID Card UK-wide in 2011 or 2012 - but it will not be compulsory.

But the government faces increasing opposition over the card with critics saying it breaches privacy as well as being useless and a waste of money.

Ministers say the card, which follows the launch of the foreign national ID card, will provide an easy way of safely proving identity.

They say this system, backed up by a national identity register, will help combat identity fraud, crime and terrorism.



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