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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".
However, the Irish authorities repeatedly rejected the idea that its citizens had the additional status of "British subject".
With regard to Northern Ireland, despite the irredentist nature and rhetorical claims of articles 2 and 3 of the new constitution, the compatibility of Irish citizenship law with the state’s boundaries remained unaltered.
In 1956, the Irish parliament enacted the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.
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 …
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 …
However, this automatic entitlement was limited to the first generation, with the citizenship of subsequent generations requiring registration and the surrendering of any other citizenship held at the age of 21.
The combination of the principles of birth and descent in the Act respected the state’s territorial boundary, with residents of Northern Ireland treated "in an identical manner to persons of Irish birth or descent who resided in Britain or a foreign country".
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The 1923 Land Act allowed the Irish Land Commission to refuse to allow a purchase of farmland by a non-Irish citizen; during the Anglo-Irish Trade War the Control of Manufactures Act 1932 required that at least 50% of the ownership of Irish-registered companies had to be held by Irish citizens.