2004 Citizenship Referendum – 10 years on. June 6, 2014Posted by Oireachtas Retort in racism.
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 bartstool 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.