Labour bill one step closer to granting certainty for children born in Ireland to non-national parents

2 December 2020

Holding the Born Here Belong Here frame

This evening, 2nd December 2020, the ‘Committee Stage’ debate on Labour’s Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill 2018 adjourned after one hour to facilitate further discussion with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and her officials, prior to the return of the Bill for adjourned ‘Committee Stage’ early in 2021.

Speaking after the adjournment of the debate about the significance of news that the the Minister will work with Labour on the Bill, Labour Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik said:

“I would like to thank Minister McEntee for engaging so positively with me and my Labour Party colleagues on this important legislation. I also strongly welcome the support of senators  from across the House, who this evening put on the record their support for greater generosity in Ireland’s approach to citizenship. This cross-party support will be of great symbolic significance to those affected by our existing laws, as well as representing a tangible step towards greater certainty for them.

“Organisations such as the Migrant Rights Centre, Nasc, the Immigrant Council, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and others provided crucial support and advice on the Bill, both to me and to other senators.

“During the debate, I read into the Seanad record a testimonial written by a parent whose daughter is vulnerable to deportation due to our current law, and who would be helped by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill 2018. This parent described how the Bill passing would be ‘a dream come true’ and explained the stress caused by the precarity of their status. 

“The threat of deportation leaves families such as this one voiceless in this important national conversation about immigration rights. It is therefore incumbent on the rest of us to amplify their stories and to advocate for them, and in consultation with them.

“Today, as we celebrate this milestone in the Born Here Belong Here campaign for greater citizenship rights for children, we remember our friend and comrade, the late Cormac Ó Braonáin, who died last December at just nineteen years of age. He was deeply passionate about this issue and, indeed, he and I spoke many times about how best we could campaign for the passage of this Bill. I commend Labour Youth on their energetic campaign in a year when they have faced such immense personal tragedy. I would also like to pay tribute to Cormac’s family, Eva, Lugh, M and Dimphne, who lent us support this month in our campaign.

“I look forward to meeting with Minister McEntee and her officials in the next few weeks to discuss this Bill further and to negotiate any amendments that may be necessary. Labour will work constructively with the Government to progress this Bill and to secure support for it when it returns for adjourned ‘Committee Stage’ in January 2021.” 

ENDS

Testimonial from a parent affected by Ireland’s current Citizenship Laws

The following testimonial, provided to the Labour Party by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), was written by a parent whose daughter was born and raised in Ireland but who currently does not have a clear pathway to Irish citizenship. Labour’s Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill 2018 would provide greater certainty and security to children, such as the child mentioned below, by enabling them to regularise their status to remain in Ireland as a legal citizen.

“My five year old daughter was born in Ireland, she's now going to primary school here. She's a bubbly, fun and creative person. She says “I was born in Ireland. This is my country.” She doesn’t know any other home than here.  She is very smart and when she grows up she wants to be a teacher and dancer, inspired by her teacher and her Mum who’s a scientist.  I hope that dream will come true for her.

“This bill would be a dream come true for my daughter and our family because it will help us live without fear and mean she has a bright future.

“Even though my daughter was born here, we are living life in the shadows. We can’t be open about our situation – her school doesn’t know; the parents I meet every morning don’t know; we live in constant fear of being found out.

“We came to Ireland to make a better life, to support our families back home. I left my other daughter who we have not seen in many years. Can you imagine what that’s like for us as parents to be torn like this – to be separated from one daughter, and tying to secure a future for both?

“Ireland is my daughter’s home, she has nowhere else to go. Life is very tough here for my child. She is always asking me ‘why we can't go to meet my sister? What paper would I need? And why I am not getting it?  My friends can go everywhere.’ She says it is very unfair.

“I see the impact of growing up undocumented and I worry about the affect this is having on her– it breaks my heart every day.

“I hope for a good future for my daughter here, after this bill passes so we can regularise our situation and so that no other child or family has to ever experience what we have gone through.”

Text of Article 9.2.1 of the Constitution following 2004 Referendum: 2 1° Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, a person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, who does not have, at the time of the birth of that person, at least one parent who is an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen is not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality, unless provided for by law.

Link to the Bill: https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/bill/2018/124/eng/initiated/b12418s.pdf