Monday 23 September 2019

Children born in Ireland to foreign parents would be eligible for citizenship under new law

Senator Ivana Bacik
Senator Ivana Bacik
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The government is opposing a change to the law that would see children born in Ireland to foreign parents made eligible for citizenship if they’ve been resident here for three years.

The Labour Party has said their proposed law is needed to deal with the “injustice” of a small number of children facing deportation, despite having never lived in any other country.

Eric Zhi Ying Mei Xue
Eric Zhi Ying Mei Xue

Such cases were highlighted in recent weeks when Eric Zhi Ying Xue (9) – who was born in Ireland - faced deportation to China.

There is a review of his case and the Bray schoolboy faces no imminent threat of deportation.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan this evening said the government will not be accepting the Opposition party's Bill which is to be debated in the Seanad tomorrow.

He claimed there are issues in the Bill that amount to "bad law" and that it's "something of a knee-jerk reaction to a particular problem".

Mr Flanagan said he will be initiating a consultation process on some of the issues raised in the Bill.

He said Ireland needs to continue to comply with European Union best practice.

Mr Flanagan also said there are issues relating to the Common Travel Area (CTA) with Britain and that he's not in a position at this stage to accept the Labour Bill.

Launching the proposed law earlier today Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said there is “widespread concern” over cases of children who were born in Ireland facing deportation.

The Bill - if passed by the Oireachtas - would amend existing laws to allow children who have been born in Ireland - and lived here for three years - to be considered for citizenship as an independent applicant irrespective of the status of their parents.

She said that such children “know no other home but Ireland and that they are effectively stateless if we do not give them permission to remain here.”

A 2004 referendum on citizenship took away the automatic right to Irish citizenship for children born in Ireland.

Ms Bacik said that Labour’s proposed legislation would not overturn the change in the law brought about by the referendum.

She said: “It would simply adjust the situation in Irish citizenship law to deal with the position of a small number of children who we say are currently being done an injustice because they face deportation.”

Ms Bacik said that there’s a problem with Ireland’s immigration system where it takes many years to process applications made by parents seeking asylum.

She said: “We have a situation where we have a small number of children who’ve been born here, who’ve lived here all through their childhood, and whose parental status has still not been determined.

“It’s a small number of hard cases and we should legislate for those.

“In those cases we should be able to grant the children citizenship rights based on residence and birth-right as well, irrespective of the status of the parents”.

Ms Bacik said that under the proposals it would be up to the minister for justice to determine the residency status of the parents if the child is granted citizenship. 

Children born in Ireland to foreign parents would be eligible for citizenship if they’ve been resident here for three years under a proposed new law.

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