Tuesday 16 July 2019

'It's not just or fair' - Labour seeks to amend citizenship law following threatened deportation of Eric (9)

Irish-born: Eric is threatened with deportation to China
Irish-born: Eric is threatened with deportation to China
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

The Labour party has announced it plans to bring forward legislation to provide for citizenship of children born in Ireland to non-nationals.

The decision follows the threatened deportation of 9-year-old Eric Zhi Ying Xue.

On Tuesday, a petition was started by St Cronan's Boys National School in Bray, Co Wicklow, asking Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to revoke the deportation order for the fourth-class pupil.

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin described the cases of Eric and others in similar situation as not "just or fair".

Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath

"The 2004 citizenship referendum, brought forward by Fianna Fáil and supported by Fine Gael removed the constitutional right to birthright citizenship as provided for under constitutional amendments following the Good Friday Agreement. The Labour Party campaigned for a No vote in this referendum," Mr Howlin said.

"Children born here, and those who have spent most of their lives here, should not be deported and the current situation where young people have to rely on having a Government Minister in their constituency to lobby on their behalf, to stay in their own country, is not tenable, just or fair."

Mr Howlin said the party aim to bring forward legislation in the near future.

"It is a sad day for Ireland when local campaigns are required to ensure children can stay in our country.

"That is why the Labour Party will bring forward legislation to ensure children born in Ireland can become Irish citizens after a period of time, and can remain here.

"It is hypocrisy of the highest order that the Taoiseach has an envoy in the United States seeking rights for undocumented Irish, while in our own country children are threatened with deportation," he added.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Simon Harris, who lives in Eric's constituency, said he stands with the young boy and that representations have been made on his behalf.

"I have made representations to the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to Eric's situation," he said in a statement to Independent.ie.

"I have appealed for Eric to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds. Quite frankly, Eric is Irish.

"He was born here, goes to school here and has never lived anywhere else. This is his home. This is his country. I really hope common sense can prevail."

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