There has been growing concern at the proposed citizenship referendum in the 26 Counties, which could effectively rewrite the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Representatives of the human rights commissions in both parts of Ireland will hold a joint meeting this month as opposition grows to the planned June 11th poll, which will remove the automatic right of citizenship of those born on the island of Ireland.

The commissions, set up under the Good Friday Agreement, are empowered to advise the governments on how proposals will affect human rights.

Pressure is growing on the Dublin government not to hold the referendum as planned on June 11th, the same day as the local government and European Parliament elections.

The SDLP in the North, the Labour Party in the South, Sinn Féin and others argue that the proposal now to restrict citizenship rights of children born to non-nationals may amount to a unilateral alteration to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty.

There is also widespread unease at the manner in which the Dublin government appears willing to exploit public unease over immigration during the election campaign. The opposition parties in the South have demanded that the referendum be deferred to allow all-party consensus on the matter.

Speaking during 1916 Easter Rising commemorations in Dublin, Mr Adams described the forthcoming citizenship referendum as ``bogus and racist'' and virtually guaranteed that race would become an election issue.

``This is a complex and sensitive issue, which the government is cynically exploiting,'' said Mr Adams.

Speaking in north Belfast, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty called on the Dublin government to cancel their proposed referendum and instead bring forward ``a positive policy on immigration, something which is long overdue.''

Ian Paisley's DUP said the move was proof that the Good Friday Agreement could be unilaterally changed, as has been sought by the DUP.

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