An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

Citizenship referendum

Herr McDowell is determined to bring his citizenship referendum to the people on June 11th, local and european election day, thus muddying the waters nicely. Apart from the obvious strategy of deflecting everyone's interest from economic issues, the referendum is nasty in concept. "The Government maintains the referendum is needed because the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which stated that every child born on the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen, is being abused. This right was enshrined in Article 2 of the Constitution after the Agreement was accepted in a referendum, leaving the Republic with Europe's most liberal citizenship rights.

In 2001, 3,153 people were granted residency because they were the parents of Irish-born children, while this figure rose to 4,027 in 2002. Nearly a quarter of all births in the three Dublin maternity hospitals were to non-nationals. In January 2003, the Supreme Court ruled by a five-two majority that non-national parents of Irish-born children did not have an automatic right to remain here. However, the court judgment has not led to a fall in the number of applications for asylum from over-16 females, who still make up 60 per cent of the numbers lodged with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform." (IT)

What this report, as all others, fails to mention when they quote the 25% non-national births in the maternity hospitals is that most of these are to perfectly legitimate foreign nationals in this country. In Holles St, there were about 9,000 births last year. About 2,500 were to non-nationals BUT only 239 were to women who showed up in labour having just flown in from Nigeria or wherever. To hear the government talk, one would think that all 2500 were maternity tourists. Our current citizenship laws are problematical but why go the sledgehammer route which will just whip up racism? Blame our poor health service on the blacks. That'll do instead of a proper health policy.

The Government plans, it is understood, to change the Constitution so that citizenship will only be granted to a child if one of his/her parents has lived on the island of Ireland for three years.

posted by Sarah | 09:41 0 comments
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