Speech on Order of Business: US Presidential Election, Support for citizenship rights for children in Ireland, #BornHereBelongHere

6 November 2020

Ivana Bacik

I echo what Senator McDowell said about the work of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. I am glad we had a productive meeting this morning. I thank the Cathaoirleach, his staff and colleagues. We have all been working constructively to try to reach the position where we can use our Chamber and engage in voting in the normal democratic way thereby fulfilling our constitutional function. I am glad, therefore, that we have had progress on that this morning.

I ask for a debate on the extension of citizenship to healthcare workers on the front line who are caring for patients with Covid in many cases but, as we have seen in recent weeks, still face uncertainty as to their legal status in Ireland. I commend Labour Youth on launching a campaign yesterday entitled "Born Here Belong Here", which seeks in particular to extend citizenship rights to children born in Ireland but who have uncertain legal status because their parents are not entitled to be Irish citizens as a result of the 2004 referendum and the legislation brought in subsequent to that. Colleagues may recall that in 2018, the Labour Party brought forward a citizenship Bill that was passed on Second Stage with support from our colleagues in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. It would have expanded the right to apply for citizenship to children born in Ireland. We will bring this Bill back on 2 December as part of this Labour Youth campaign to extend citizenship rights. There is a groundswell of public support for greater generosity in terms of citizenship rights, particularly when we see reports of people who have been working in healthcare in Ireland, in some cases for many years, and are facing a threat of deportation. I ask the Leader to facilitate our debate in Private Members' time and that the Government see fit to support the legislation. We would be bringing it back on Committee Stage and are very much open to having amendments from the Government side. I look forward to working constructively with the Leader and other colleagues to ensure we have some expansion of our citizenship law for children born in Ireland and persons working in healthcare who are on the front line and facing deportation. I look forward to that debate.

Like everyone else, I have been riveted by the US election. I express my hope and that of my party that Joe Biden prevails and is elected today and that we see a declaration being made. I also condemn the outrageous comments made by the outgoing US President about the democratic process casting aspersions and undermining people's belief in the integrity of the democratic process in the US. It is shocking to see those comments being made by an outgoing US President.