Bacik and Kelly launch 'Born Here Belong Here' petition, seek support for Labour Citizenship Bill

24 November 2020

Holding the Born Here Belong Here frame

Today at Leinster House, Labour Party leader Alan Kelly and Party spokesperson on Children, Equality, Disability and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik, launched a petition to support Labour’s Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill 2018, which is due back next week before the Seanad and which would provide a pathway to citizenship for children born in Ireland. 

The petition was launched as part of Labour’s Born Here Belong Here campaign, and the launch was attended by representatives from stakeholder groups and NGOS including the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. 

Speaking at the launch, Deputy Kelly said: 

“Labour opposed the 27th Amendment referendum in 2004, which abolished the right to birthright citizenship. We have seen since 2004 that this referendum has had devastating consequences for a small number of children directly affected, like 9-year old Eric Zhi Ying Xu, an Irish-born boy from Bray whose family were faced with a deportation order in 2018.  

“Although Eric’s family were granted leave to remain following a public campaign to support them, we know there are other families and children whose legal status remains uncertain, and who live daily with the fear of deportation, even where they have known no other home but Ireland. Now we are proud to take a stand in support of children’s rights in putting forward this important Bill which would restore a pathway to citizenship for children born in Ireland.”  

Senator Bacik said: 

“Our Labour Party Bill would make a modest but important legal change to enable children born in Ireland and who have lived here for three years to be considered for Irish citizenship, irrespective of the status of their parents. The Bill was passed through Second Stage in the Seanad by a majority of Senators, including Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, but was not supported by Fine Gael Senators. We are now bringing the Bill back before the Seanad in the first week of December - and we are calling on this new coalition Government to support it, in a spirit of solidarity and generosity.  

“Those children who face deportation despite being born here are our neighbours; they go to school with our own children; they have much to give to this country; and much is owed to them. They need our support in their bid for certainty and belonging. Just as successive Irish Governments have rightly argued for the rights of undocumented Irish migrants in the US, the Irish Government should act with generosity next week when our Bill comes back to the Seanad, to protect the rights of undocumented children in Ireland. Children who are born here belong here.”

Link to petition: