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Thread: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

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    Default Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    via Gavan Titley

    Ten years ago the Irish government engineered a referendum that removed the right to citizenship to children born in Ireland of 'non-nationals'. While there is much attention right now to the political generation of racism in Europe during a recession, by so-called 'populist' parties, it is worth remembering that this was enthusiastic, boom-time crisis racism, engineered by statist mandarins and the liberal political centre.

    It singled out women of colour as welfare tourists and parasites, jetting in to give birth and abuse the nation's hospitality. On the cusp of EU expansion the government of Ahern and McDowell knew exactly what they were fomenting; the chance for a symbolic performance of sovereignty, a collective blast on the dog whistle, and a license for taxi driver mythologies to be circulated as bracing common sense.

    They told us that this was necessary to ensure safe and adequate maternity services in Ireland. They told us it was critical to the integrity of the nation's sovereignty. They told us that it was just a practical measure, all part of managing prosperity. They told us that it was important to ensure that the generosity of the social welfare system was not abused.

    After Savita, after the Troika, after the deliberate transfer of public wealth, after the replacement of exotic anchor babies with common or garden welfare fraudsters, how's that commonsense looking?

    The 2004 referendum had a specific racializing impact, and predominantly hidden but frequently profound and disastrous impacts on lives, relationships, and families. But it was also a trial run for the kind of governance that doesn't limit itself to one 'problem population', but continues to produce them when necessary, and has done relentlessly and remorselessly over the last years.

    Come and mark the referendum, 10 years on - not as a past event to be commemorated and mourned, but as a collective shame that needs addressing, and as a form of exclusionary violence that can be continually extended, and that needs to be opposed.


    The 2004 Citizenship Referendum – the damage done.

    Join us at 1 pm on Wednesday June 11th outside the Dail when we mark ten years since the 2004 Citizenship Referendum was passed. We are marking this by holding a solidarity event for all who live in Ireland.

    The referendum stopped the automatic right of children born in Ireland from having the rights of citizenship. Birth right citizenship entitlement was changed to blood-based citizenship entitlement granted only to children born in Ireland one of whose parents is a citizen, or entitled to citizenship. Over the last ten years, this referendum has divided families, divided the entire population, and caused countless hardships for thousands of people in this country. It needs to be repealed.

    There will be no politicians’ speeches at the event – there was enough of those 10 years ago. Instead we will have a soapbox where people can recount how the referendum has affected their lives, and where there will be readings and music.

    Come along and be part of it.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/518289834942003/?ref=22

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. FIVE View Post
    [I] ..........................., and a license for taxi driver mythologies to be circulated as bracing common sense.



    /?ref=22[/url]
    So are taxi drivers the only group to be stereotyped and made unwelcome or are there others. It is only right we should know such types of unwelcome folk so we can stay away and not spoil the self righteous party.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by eamo View Post
    So are taxi drivers the only group to be stereotyped and made unwelcome or are there others. It is only right we should know such types of unwelcome folk so we can stay away and not spoil the self righteous party.
    Perhaps the 80% or so of Irish voters who voted to end the welfare tourism and abuse of the asylum system are not invited either?

    Regards...jmcc

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Taxi drivers and supporters of the amendment are indeed the real victims here.

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. FIVE View Post
    Taxi drivers and supporters of the amendment are indeed the real victims here.
    It would have been far better to have had a working asylum system that wasn't being actively abused. However taxi drivers and other Irish people paid for it all.

    Regards...jmcc
    Last edited by jmcc; 02-06-2014 at 04:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Would probably be better not to believe everything Fianna Fáil tells you though

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. FIVE View Post
    Would probably be better not to believe everything Fianna Fáil tells you though
    That the best you can do?

    Regards...jmcc

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by eamo View Post
    So are taxi drivers the only group to be stereotyped and made unwelcome or are there others. It is only right we should know such types of unwelcome folk so we can stay away and not spoil the self righteous party.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    I have to say I hardly think it's constructive to replace one form of prejudice with another.

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcc View Post
    It would have been far better to have had a working asylum system that wasn't being actively abused. However taxi drivers and other Irish people paid for it all.

    Regards...jmcc
    The idea that somehow there is welfare tourism is a myth perpetuated by those of the far right. Habitual residency requirements put in place a barrier to stop anyone from abusing the system and its applied routinely and widely to everyone. Having seen the direct provision centres aswell where people are being put up (flagrantly in contravention of their human rights, case waiting to be taken) the system is hardly under abuse. Quite surprised jmcc you falling for the sabre rattling of the media, an issue you have been so keen to point out that many others appear to fall for...
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by fluffybiscuits View Post
    The idea that somehow there is welfare tourism is a myth perpetuated by those of the far right. Habitual residency requirements put in place a barrier to stop anyone from abusing the system and its applied routinely and widely to everyone.
    The numbers would disagree with your opinion there, Fluffy.

    Having seen the direct provision centres aswell where people are being put up (flagrantly in contravention of their human rights, case waiting to be taken) the system is hardly under abuse.
    Back then it was being abused and people were being trafficked to Ireland to take advantage of the legal loophole.

    Quite surprised jmcc you falling for the sabre rattling of the media, an issue you have been so keen to point out that many others appear to fall for...
    The media were, largely, on the other side and got a bit of a shock when approximately 80% of those who voted disagreed with their stance.

    Regards...jmcc

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    The 2004 Citizenship Referendum: What Happened?



    What did the Citizenship Referendum mean?

    Resulting from the Referendum, birth right citizenship entitlement granted to all people born in Ireland since 1922 was changed to blood-based citizenship entitlement granted only to children born in Ireland one of whose parents is a citizen, or entitled to citizenship

    Ireland 1922-2004: Birth right citizenship to all

    Until the 2004 Citizenship Referendum, the Irish Constitution granted citizenship to anyone born in Ireland. The 1937 Constitution and the 1956 and 1986 Nationality and Citizenship Act granted citizenship to anyone born in the 32 counties of Ireland, except diplomats’ children, and at the same time allowed up to third generation Irish emigrants to claim Irish citizenship. These rights were consolidated by the amended Article 2 of the Irish Constitution, as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement:

    ‘It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland… to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage’.

    Importantly, birth-right citizenship entitlement (called jus soli) meant that all children of migrants born in Ireland were granted citizenship of Ireland and, as was ruled by the Supreme Court in the 1990s Fajujonu case, their parents had a legal right to remain in Ireland to provide ‘care and company‘ to their citizen child.

    1990s onwards: Increased Migration

    Responding to increased immigration since the mid 1990s, the Irish government was determined to overturn the automatic birth right citizenship to all children born in Ireland. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in the Lobe and Osayande appeal, that ‘non-national‘ parents were no longer allowed to remain in Ireland to bring up their citizen child. The Supreme Court privileged the State‘s right to deport and the ‘integrity of the asylum process’ over these citizen children‘s rights, though without rescinding their citizenship right. The 2003 Supreme Court decision exposed a contradiction between nationality and citizenship, both of which were part of the amended Article 2: children born in Ireland would be part of the ‘Irish nation’ but not citizens. The ruling privileged the ‘integrity of the asylum process‘ – interpreted as the right of the state to deport and control the residency rights of migrants living within its jurisdiction – over the constitutional integrity of ‘the family‘, termed in Article 41.1.1 of the Constitution as ‘the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society‘.

    The blood based rights to Irish citizenship (called Jus sanguinis, based on ethnicity/heredity) also allows up to third generation Irish emigrants to claim Irish citizenship, while contesting the ius soli citizenship right for children of migrants born in Ireland. Reporting migrant numbers ‘spiralling out of control‘ created a climate of insecurity within which racism and xenophobia flourished. These fears were most evident in the attempt by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, to deny the right of residency to migrant parents by questioning their children citizens‘ ‘absolute‘ rights of residency. The Minister also suggested that migrant parents may be coerced to bring their citizen children with them if deported.

    The 2003 Lobe and Osayande Supreme Court case: what the court said

    Chief Justice Roman Keane upheld the ‘the inherent power of Ireland as a sovereign state to expel or deport non-nationals’. Justice Keane said that while the ruling in the 1990 Fajujonu case was given at a time of low levels of in-migration, ‘the state could not be expected to disregard the problems which an increased level of in-migration inevitably created’, and ruled that ‘the orderly system of dealing with immigration and asylum applications should not be undermined by persons seeking to take advantage’ of the system.

    Justice Susan Denham (the present Chief Justice) further argued that ‘it does not follow from the rights of citizenship and residency of a minor child that the child is entitled to the society, care and company of his parents in Ireland…‘ If the common good requires it, Denham said, ‘the Minister has the right to terminate the residence in Ireland of non- national parents of Irish citizens, leading to either the breakup of the family or the constructive deportation of the child citizens‘. Justice Denham prioritised the racial state over the individual citizen and her family.

    What happened after the Lobe and Osayande ruling?

    After the ruling, on 19 February 2003, the Minister of Justice removed the process whereby migrant parents could apply to remain in Ireland solely on the grounds of having a citizen child.

    In summer 2003 letters began being issued by the Department of Justice (DJELR) to parents whose residency applications remained pending on 19 February 2003. To show its determination to execute deportations, in September 2003 the DJELR hired 150 extra staff to its new ‘IBC (Irish Born Child) unit‘ to process pending residency claims from immigrant parents of citizen children. The abolition of the process resulted in 11,500 migrant parents of Irish citizen children becoming candidates for deportation as of July 2003. Resulting from an initiative by AkiDwA, the African Women‘s Network, The Coalition Against Deportation of Irish Children (CADIC) was established to campaign against the deportations.

    For a period of almost two years, the Minister for Justice declared his unwillingness to reverse his decision or recognise en masse migrant parents of Irish children who had lawfully applied for residency. Not only did the government refuse to grant residency to migrant parents, but among the 341 people deported between 2002 and February 2005 there were at least 20 citizen children who, the Minister for Justice argued, were voluntarily taken out of the country by their deported parents.

    Blaming migrant women

    Although the state varied its arguments to justify the Referendum, migrant women, allegedly arriving at the late stages of pregnancy (although no satisfactory figures were produced before the referendum), were highlighted as intentionally mothering the next generation of Irish citizens so as to gain residency rights for themselves, and were thus rendered ‘illegal’. The government claimed that migrant women were ‘pregnant on arrival’ and that many engaged in ‘citizenship tourism’. However, although the Minister claimed that the Dublin maternity hospitals begged him to do something about the spiralling numbers of ‘non-national’ births, a 2004 report by Dervla King for The Children’s Rights Alliance found that it was not possible to demonstrate that the increase in births to ‘non national’ women could be attributed to the fact that their children were entitled to Irish citizenship:
    • There were no statistics to vindicate the government’s claim that very large numbers of non-EU nationals were coming to Ireland with the sole purpose of giving birth
    • No data were available from Dublin’s maternity hospitals relating to the residency status of women who presented themselves for delivery: many ‘non-national’ birthing women were labour migrants, spouses of EU nationals, tourists, or students
    • It was not possible to identify the numbers of women who arrived in the country shortly before giving birth
    • No statistics were collected as to the nationality of the fathers
    • Statistics from the three Dublin maternity hospitals showed that the total number of non-EU women arriving unannounced at a late stage of pregnancy in 2003 was 548, or under 2.4% of the total number of births in the three hospitals; 174 Irish women also arrived unannounced in the late stages of pregnancy
    • Furthermore, contrary to the government’s argument that large numbers of asylum seekers were ‘pregnant on arrival’, although the proportion of pregnant women applying for asylum remained constant between 2002 and 2003 (at 58%), the actual number dropped by nearly 60%. In total there was a drop of 50% in the number of asylum applications after the 2003 L&O case.



    The Citizenship Referendum

    In 2004, having closed the route of residency for migrant parents of citizen children, the Irish state held a constitutional referendum aimed at reversing its jus soli citizenship access, explicitly making, for the first time in 83 years, blood and heredity the basis of Irish citizenship. The government’s main rationale, couched in discourses of ‘common sense’ and ‘the integrity of Irish citizenship’, was that Ireland’s unique citizenship laws in the EU were being exploited.

    The Minister for Justice emphasised that the proposed change was antiracist: ‘the greatest contribution to racism and xenophobia would be if it was perceived that the government could not control immigration’.

    The government made a strong argument: 79.14% of the electorate voted in favour of changing Ireland’s citizenship entitlement.

    The Citizenship Referendum as a turning point

    The Citizenship Referendum was a crucial turning point in turning Ireland into a constitutionally racist state in which citizens are differentiated from non-citizens. Like the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, the ‘Jim Crow’ laws in the US and the Apartheid laws in South Africa, the revised Citizenship and Nationality Act denationalised people, stripping some people living in Ireland of rights and citizenship. Crucially, most of the people so disenfranchised were children. The results of the Referendum created new racialised categories such as ‘Irish born children’, and people who remain ‘part of the Irish nation’ yet have had their rights to citizenship removed, seen as having ‘insufficient connection’ to Ireland.

    What happened after the Referendum was won?

    By 15 June 2005 17,877 residency applications from migrant parents of citizen children were received of which some 17,500 were granted, but without rights to family reunification. What was the reason for this volte face? Even though the Minister did not explain this reversal of fortunes, it seems more probably connected to the huge cost of potential court cases by citizen children than to humanitarian reasons.

    http://citizenshipref2014.com/2014/06/05/what-happened/

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum


    In 2005 Elliot Weinberger published a long poem, What I Heard About Iraq, comprised entirely of the claims, assurances, shifting justifications and evasions produced by the political class in pursuit of the war in Iraq.

    To mark 10 years since the Citizenship referendum, some of us have drawn on his approach to document What I Heard about the 2004 Referendum, featuring quotes and claims made by public figures in the period before the announcement of the referendum, and the campaign period


    What I heard about the 2004 Referendum

    I heard the Irish Examiner warn of a state alert, as pregnant asylum seekers aim for Ireland.

    I heard of Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn’s concern that the asylum crisis is out of control, the country held hostage by spongers, wasters and con-men.

    I heard when a caller from Limerick told Gerry Ryan that people born and bred in Limerick can’t get on housing lists, but that these people get the best apartments.

    I heard Independent TD Jackie Healy Rae regret that we don’t look after our own homeless yet we spend a fortune on illegal immigrants.

    I heard the Mayor of Tramore argue that there were too many asylum-seekers in his town, a town where local people find it hard to get accommodation.

    I heard The Mirror document how asylum-seeking mothers get free nappies from the state, while Irish mothers get none.

    I heard Independent TD Jackie Healy Rae note that thousands of young Irish mothers would love that kind of hand-out.

    I heard the Irish Independent caution that a racial time bomb was set to explode.

    I heard the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pass on the concerns of those working in maternity hospitals about the enormous growth in the numbers of pregnant women arriving at hospitals within days of their arrival.

    I heard the Wexford People report that asylum seekers were seeking relationships with impressionable young girls, aware that making a baby would secure permanent residence in the country.

    I heard Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell recount how she had heard of one young pregnant woman being offered £1,000 at a bus stop to declare a non-national the father of her child.

    I heard the Irish Mirror announce that the number of HIV mothers in Ireland had increased one hundred fold in just ten years, with African migrants accounting for three quarters of those infected.

    I heard Minister Michael McDowell on RTÉ radio, suggesting that it was handy enough that Ireland is an island.

    I heard the Irish Independent relay the experience of maternity hospital masters, who sometimes couldn’t get through the front halls of their hospitals, jam-packed as they were, with people landing in from the airport.

    I heard columnist Kevin Myers conclude that Ireland had no choice but to turn back illegal migrants at their point of entry, pregnant ones especially.

    I heard the coalition government of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats call a referendum on the Twenty-Seventh amendment of the Constitution Bill for June 11 2004, to change the rules concerning the constitutional entitlement to citizenship by birth.

    I heard Taoiseach Bertie Ahern regret that our system is being rampantly abused.

    I heard Michael McDowell pass on his anecdotal awareness of women from eastern Europe and elsewhere in the world who arrive on holiday visas, give birth, collect their birth certs and passports, and return home.

    I heard Michael Martin recount how he knew of a Nigerian woman who had quintuplets, the first born in Lagos, the other four after hopping on a plane to Dublin.

    I heard Michael McDowell attest that the government and its people were decent and free from improper motives.

    I heard it widely reported that more asylum-seekers will be turned away on arrival due to the introduction of fingerprinting and facial recognition devices.

    I heard Michael McDowell conclude that we cannot rely on immigration controls alone, or on non-national women of childbearing age making declarations of pregnancy on arrival in the state.

    I heard Naomi McElroy report in The Sunday Mirror that it was only a matter of time before Ireland was engulfed by a TB epidemic.

    I heard Bertie Ahern marvel that even the President of Nigeria had warned him that our citizenship laws are known as easy game.

    I heard Michael McDowell confirm that there had been a consistent pattern of abuse of Irish citizenship, with many, many thousands of non-nationals giving birth in our hospitals.

    I heard Áine Ní Chonaill describe Ireland as a maternity ward for West Africa.

    I heard Tánaiste Mary Harney regret that the referendum had been described as racist, when calm and considered debate was what we required.

    I heard Fianna Fáil TD Tony Killeen recognize that the people of this country have not been exposed to any great extent to people of African or oriental origin. Genuine wonder is sometimes confused with racism, he noted.

    I heard Dr Paul Byrne, a gynecologist at the Rotunda maternity hospital, relate the ordinary fears of his patients, scared of being in a minority compared to Africans in the wards. It was fear of being called racist that kept them quiet, he added.

    I heard fears of citizenship tourists quietly replace fear of pregnant asylum-seekers.

    I heard Brian Lenihan describe the simple facts and reality of people with no connection to Ireland or intention of living here arranging for their children to be born in Ireland.

    I heard Bertie Ahern confess that it never occurred to him that Russians, Moldovans and Ukranians would come to Ireland for two or three weeks simply to collect Irish citizenship.

    I heard Michael McDowell emphasize that the referendum would underline that fidelity to the state and loyalty to the nation were fundamental political duties of Irish citizens.

    I heard him assure that it would protect the health of non-national mothers and their children.

    I heard that this was fair and balanced, an exercise in common sense.

    I heard that the people have spoken.

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    And yet the Irish people voted for the referendum. 79.14% in favour.

    It does look, in retrospect, like Ireland was getting caught in the fallout from UK Labour's attempt to turn the UK into a multicultural society by enabling large scale immigration. The immigration system was understaffed and underfunded. It was being abused.

    Perhaps these protesters can hold a few minutes silence for the poor people who really were in need of asylum and died because they couldn't afford the multiple airplane tickets. But they are dead and the dead don't count in the statistics of fake moral outrage.

    Regards...jmcc

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    Default Re: Remembering the 2004 Citizenship Referendum

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcc View Post
    And yet the Irish people voted for the referendum. 79.14% in favour.
    Correction. On 60% turn out it was only 46.9% who voted for it. But also, bearing in mind that citizenship is granted to anyone born in Ireland, a substantial number of Irish citizens were rendered ineligible to vote due to the fact they lived in the North of Ireland, that is, they were not even consulted.

    If you want to hold up lofty allusions to Will of the People or the sanctity of referendums surely you would also agree that the amendment and implicit exclusion therein is the very opposite of democracy.

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