In June 2004, the Irish people voted in a referendum which inserted a new Article 9.2 into Bunreacht na hÉireann to limit the right to claim citizenship to children born here who had at least one parent who was an Irish citizen.
An unforeseen consequence of the Good Friday Agreement had led to an amended Article 2 of the Constitution which allowed anyone born here to claim citizenship and thus by extension allow their entire family to do so.
The loophole had contributed to a massive 70% increase in immigration between 1999 and 2004. There were proven cases where people travelled to both parts of Ireland in order to exploit this loophole and thus establish a right to residency that would otherwise never have been granted.
The 27th amendment proposed in 2004 brought the Irish state into line with all other EU member states.
The proposal was overwhelmingly popular and was passed by almost 80% of those who cast their ballot. The amendment was opposed by Labour, Sinn Féin, the far left, Greens and the usual suspects in the NGOs and “rights” groups who soak up large amounts of taxpayer’s money from the immigration gig. Those groups tried to label the vote a “racist referendum” at the time. Clearly the electorate were having none of it.
The referendum was held on the same day as the local and European elections. I was on the Sinn Féin election directorate for Dublin which co-ordinated both the local elections and the campaign for the Dublin European constituency. It was a major breakthrough for Sinn Féin. Mary Lou McDonald was elected as MEP and the party took almost 19% of the vote and ten seats in the Dublin City Council area.
So, you might think, that vote was surely was a vindication of Sinn Fein’s opposition to the referendum. Not exactly. Local candidates who knew their areas were unenthusiastic about campaigning against the referendum, to say the least, as were most of us on the directorate. When some party members tried to push the No campaign as part of the election effort, we rebuffed them.
And when one chap who was a representative alongside the usual ragtag and bobtail on the anti-referendum campaign decided on his own initiative to have thousands of leaflets produced to be handed out centrally for local distribution by activists, they mysteriously got lost somewhere in the basement of 44 or 58 Parnell Square.
We were vindicated when the boxes were opened and papers separated and it was clear that hardly any Sinn Féin voters in the city council area had voted No. One box which I tallied in Darndale had 11 No votes, even though the vast majority of votes were cast for Sinn Féin councillor Larry O’Toole and for Mary Lou.
Fast forward 16 years, and this vote is apparently again up for grabs. Communist TD Mick Barry tabled a private members motion on September 24 seeking to overturn the measure. In fact this is only the latest attempt to overturn what was generally considered to be a common sense change, which proves once again the attraction of divisive racial politics on the part of those whose absurd Marxist political ideology no longer floats anyone’s boat.
The last debate on this, in January when there was a similar proposal, provides some insight into how the parties are likely to form up now if it does come to a vote. One suspects, however, that it is the opportunity to grandstand and falsely portray others as racists, rather than any likelihood that the Bill will be put to a referendum, that is attractive to the reds.
Murphy, Barry and Kenny the three communist deputies who spoke on the proposal engaged in the usual faux emotionalism and denial of the facts. The Cork Sinn Féin TD Ó Laoghaire curiously referred to a deportation order to China. It puzzles me as to why the Shinners oppose deportation to states like China and South Africa which represent their own aspirations towards “equality” and the rest. Not to mention the great example of how to use the pretence of achieving that nebulous state to make a few bob.
Sinn Féin, of course, supported the proposal to overturn the vote of almost 80% of the electorate and presumably will support its latest incarnation if it comes back to the Dáil. The Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Citizenship for Children) Bill 2020 proposes to directly overturn the 27th amendment and allow citizenship to any person born in Ireland. Indeed it extends it by allowing citizenship to any child who has spent 3 years here while a child. It is badly drafted, but the intent is clear.
When Mick Barry introduced the Bill at first stage on September 24, he regurgitated the usual emotive stuff, adding that the proposal was now “inspired by the Black lives Matter movement.” So you can imagine the festival of virtue signalling that awaits if it is tabled for Second Stage debate.
It is a clever re-positioning by the communists whose electoral fortunes have dipped. They are sure to get the support of Sinn Féin many of whose activists’ natural home is with the far left rather than any movement claiming to be nationalist and republican. Beyond that, it potentially provides a means to embarrass the similarly deracinated elements in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with a dilemma as they seek to trumpet their own sanctimoniousness.
There is already it would seem a basis for a campaign group which has been initiated by Trinners students, and Labour Youth have launched a Born Here, Belong Here group There is also a group called Le Chéile whose founding bumph does not specifically refer to seeking to overturn the 2004 referendum but would seem like a perfect fit given its commitment to “challenge the far right” and generally get everyone in for a group hug. It has signed up many of the usual clapped out old suspects for this sort of thing. It also been ratified by Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly who only left the far left formally when nominated as a Sinn Féin candidate.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the Bill in the coming months.