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Damage of 2004 citizenship referendum to be marked by ‘soapbox’ at Dáil

Date Released: 06 June 2014

The tenth anniversary of the citizenship referendum will be marked and mourned by migrants and others outside Dail Eireann next Wednesday. Over the last ten years, the Constitutional amendment approved by the referendum has split families, divided the entire population, and caused hardship for countless people in this country.

The solidarity 'soapbox' next week will allow migrants to share their experiences and record the consequences of the referendum. It begins at 1 pm on Wednesday June 11th in Kildare Street and is supported by Afri, the global justice organisation.

The 27th amendment to the Constitution, ratified by the referendum, meant that children born in Ireland would no longer have an automatic right to citizenship.

Birthright citizenship entitlement was changed to, in effect, a blood-based citizenship entitlement, guaranteed only to children born in Ireland one of whose parents is already a citizen, or entitled to citizenship.

The amendment was sold to the public in various ways.  Justice minister Michael McDowell said it would protect maternity services from ‘pregnancy tourism’. It has of course done nothing to improve the Irish healthcare system and has had terrible consequences for Irish-born children and their families, some of whom continue to suffer in the terrible direct-provision system.

Salome Mgubua and Yemisi Ojo of AkiDwA, a network of African women in Ireland, will be among the speakers next Wednesday.  

“There will be no politicians’ speeches at the event – there were enough of those 10 years ago,” Dr Anne Mulhall, one of the organisers of the event, said. “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.”

“While there is much attention right now to the generation of racism in Europe during a recession, by so-called 'populist' parties, it is worth remembering that this amendment was created by enthusiastic, boom-time crisis racism, engineered by statist mandarins and the liberal political centre,” Dr Gavan Titley, another of the organisers, added. "Once again, the 1916 promise to ‘cherish all the children equally’ is mocked. The amendment should of course be repealed."


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