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2004 Citizenship Referendum – 10 years on. June 6, 2014

Posted 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.


Facebook event page



1. doctorfive - June 6, 2014

Website is here too http://citizenshipref2014.com/

Well worth reading


2. steve white - June 7, 2014
3. irishelectionliterature - June 7, 2014
4. Tomboktu - June 7, 2014

How useful is it to use the appalling situation of people living in direct provision in a campaign about citizenship rights?

In theory, the State could solve the problems created by direct provision through abolishing it or by ensuring asylum decisions are made quickly (or a combination of both). That would not change the citizenship rights of any of the children.

Does anybody know what the current law on the rights Irish children of non-Irish parents is? Do they have a right to have their parents remain in the country until they are adults or can their citizxenship rights be made mean nothing because their parents canbe deported?


ar scáth a chéile - June 8, 2014

Since Zambrano judgement of Court of Justice of EU in 2011 parents of Irish citizen children are in practice able to stay once they can show they have been playing active role in the child’s life.


Tomboktu - June 9, 2014



5. workers republic - June 7, 2014

Synchronisticly I was thinking of this referendum today. I had heard this deplorable racist act had been repealed as unconstitutional;if not it’s high time, past time, it was.
I remember, RSF opposed the FF/PD Act, invoking the 1916 proclamation.
Micheal Martin still support this racist act.
Paul Mac Andrews made a good point recently , regarding the scandal of the 800 babies buried (dumped) in a septic tank , in 10th years time, will we be shocked by the inhuman conditions immigrants and their children are forced to live under in direct provision.
Now is the time to act.


workers republic - June 7, 2014

? left out re. M Martin, does FF still support this racist act?


Portnoy - June 7, 2014

No but the people overwhelmingly did.

They voted it in because the legal situation was creating a pull factor that was felt to be an abuse.

Call it racist , pretend the people didn’t back it, and ignore the fact the supposedly racist PD FFecker coalition was telling Ireland to be be ready for we needed 1 million people to come here.

In order to rectify the situation whereby 10 year olds are denied citizenship am I required to ignore part of the story that might inconvenience a simplistic approach.


doctorfive - June 7, 2014

Surely anyone talking about will of the people and sanctity of referendums should also recognise that the exclusion at the core of this amendment is the very opposite of democracy.

This referendum stands as one of the few events from bubble Ireland were people will proudly still unquestionably swallow what McDowell and Bertie told them. Amazin isn’t it.

The sentence in the original post above about the creation of problem populations is really crucial here I think. And we can see how the same tactics were turned (or merely increased) on the native population after 2008.

I posted this earlier in year. See the link between 2004 and now https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/more-on-welfare/


RosencrantzisDead - June 7, 2014

Call it racist , pretend the people didn’t back it, and ignore the fact the supposedly racist PD FFecker coalition was telling Ireland to be be ready for we needed 1 million people to come here.

FF proposed and backed the amendment to the Constitution. There is a link to several pamphlets from them characterising it as ‘common sense citizenship’.

In order to rectify the situation whereby 10 year olds are denied citizenship am I required to ignore part of the story that might inconvenience a simplistic approach.

I have no idea what this paragraph means. Can someone explain?


6. sinead - October 24, 2018

Why should Ireland be the only country in Europe to grant citizenship to people born in that country? The Americans and Canadians don’t allow anchor babies to stay.They can only do so after they turn 18.Mass immigration means the most expensive housing in Europe Is found in Ireland.


CL - October 24, 2018

Not true. :Anyone born in the U.S is a citizen with full citizen rights.

Liked by 1 person

7. Alibaba - October 24, 2018

‘On the cusp of EU expansion the government of Ahern and McDowell knew exactly what they were fomenting’

No surprises then that Michael McDowell stated this before Oireachtas Justice Committee in 2005:

“I’m making it very clear you will be going home within 10 weeks of making a claim in Ireland, and I would much prefer to have a system where I could have an interview at the airport, find out the cock and bull stories that are going on and put them on the next flight. But unfortunately the UN Convention requires me to go through due process in respect of all these claims.”

Due process and giving a fair hearing is an inconvenience and annoyance and remains so to this day.


8. CL - October 24, 2018

What’s being done to this Irish boy is an atrocity.

‘A nine-year-old Wicklow schoolboy, Eric Zhi Ying Xue, is facing deportation to China despite being born in and growing up in Ireland.’

“We in St. Cronan’s School appeal to the Minister for Justice, Mr. Charlie Flanagan, to revoke the deportation order made in respect of Eric Zhi Ying Xue. Eric is a 9 year old boy in 4th Class in St. Cronan’s BNS Bray, who was born in Ireland but is not an Irish citizen and has never been out of the country.”


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