Irish Republican News · March 10, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Referendum on Irish citizenship announced

The Dublin government is to hold a constitutional referendum to remove the right to Irish citizenship for all children born on the island of Ireland.

The move is aimed at denying the automatic right to citizenship to children born to non-national parents.

According to the 1937 constitution, anyone born on the island of Ireland is entitled to citizenship.

However the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said this evening he believed this was being exploited by people determined to exploit the asylum application process.

Mr McDowell is attempting to get all-party support for the initiative, but any attempt to redefine the Irish nation could prove contentious.

``What I have started today on behalf of the government is an all-party consultative process with a view to examining proposals for having a referendum to limit the right to Irish citizenship of children born on the island of Ireland where neither of their parents were at the time of their birth either Irish citizens or entitled to Irish citizenship,'' he said.

A period of time, as yet unspecified, for which people must be legally resident in Ireland before citizenship can be given to their children is to be written into law.

Mr McDowell claimed there was significant evidence that people were coming to Ireland to have children outside of the asylum process.

He said the government had yet to decide on a date for the proposed referendum, although he confirmed that June 11th - the day of the local and European elections - remained an option.

Sinn Féin may call for the referendum to also extend the right to vote in Presidential elections to all Irish citizens, including those living in the Six Counties.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that non-national parents of an Irish-born child could not, as a matter of course, claim the right to live in Ireland.

It created an anomaly whereby the parents were subject to deportation while their infant offspring enjoyed all the legal rights of Irish citizenship.

Dublin is understood to end any incentive to non-nationals to give birth in Ireland.

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