Currently any child born in Ireland is automatically an Irish citizen. This automatic right to citizenship for children born in Ireland was inserted into the Constitution as part of the Belfast Agreement in 1998 and is in line with citizenship rights in such countries as the US, Canada and New Zealand.
McDowell, our minister for injustice, has called the referendum - at very short notice - for the very same day as the local government and European Parliament elections. This allows the Irish government to conveniently deflect the current anger of the population at, for example, the crises in our health service and the appalling housing situation. The government is trying to create a smokescreen to cover up their own failures by rushing through a referendum to attack Irish children's rights.
McDowell, has been caught several times blatantly lying and creating scare stories about immigration. He has spoken of "citizenship tourism", of "massive inflows" of non-nationals to the maternity hospitals, of the situation "snowballing out of control", and of the Masters of the Dublin hospitals "pleading" with him to change the laws on citizenship. A document published by his Department based the case for a referendum solely on the thesis that there is a growing problem of non-national births in Ireland. All of this is untrue however and McDowell has since had to change his story.
The real problems in maternity services are the result of years of government cutbacks and closures. The Masters of the hospitals themselves have accused McDowell of exaggeration, and the figures bear them out. Take the Coombe Hospital, for example. The increase in non-national births last year was just 2 per cent. As with the other Dublin hospitals, a major portion of its 20 per cent of foreign mothers were living and working in Ireland entirely legally, with many from Britain and other EU countries, and the US. The minister now tells us that "I'm not pinning my hat on the issue of statistics from maternity hospitals."
This referendum would brings Ireland's citizenship laws in line with those in other EU countries and is another step in the creation of Fortress Europe - a Europe which successive agreements, treaties and 'action plans' have turned into a deadly fortress which has already caused thousands of deaths of refugees and asylum seekers and has criminalised and marginalised those immigrants within the EU who, whether fleeing war, persecution or poverty, are trying to build a new life here.
The Campaign Against the Racist Referendum has been set up counter racist lies peddled by the government and to fight for a No vote in this referendum which attempts to take away the rights of a group of Irish children. If you want to get involved come to the weekly campaign meetings which are held in the Teachers Club, Parnell Square at 3pm on Saturdays or contact campaign members at:
Campaign Against the Racist Referendum, c/o 12A Brunswick Place, Dublin 2, 087 6662060 or 087 7974622, firstname.lastname@example.org
This edition is No81 published in May 2004