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Labour to bring forward legislation to amend citizenship law

The Labour Party has agreed on plans to bring forward legislation to provide for citizenship of children born in Ireland to non-nationals.

The decision was made at a meeting of the party's Executive Board today following the threatened deportation of nine-year-old Eric Zhi Ying Xue from Bray.

Eric Zhi Ying Xue

Party leader Brendan Howlin it was not "tenable, just or fair" that children who were born in Ireland have to rely on a minister in their constituency to lobby on their behalf to stay in this country.

"The 2004 citizenship referendum, brought forward by Fianna Fáil and supported by Fine Gael removed the constitutional right to birthright citizenship as provided for under constitutional amendments following the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

Labour had campaigned for a No vote in this referendum.

"Children born here, and those who have spent most of their lives here, should not be deported and the current situation where young people have to rely on having a Government Minister in their constituency to lobby on their behalf, to stay in their own country, is not tenable, just or fair.

[quote]It is a sad day for Ireland when local campaigns are required to ensure children can stay in our country.[/quote]

"That is why the Labour Party will bring forward legislation to ensure children born in Ireland can become Irish citizens after a period of time, and can remain here.

"It is hypocrisy of the highest order that the Taoiseach has an envoy in the United States seeking rights for undocumented Irish, while in our own country children are threatened with deportation," he said.


Labour Party Chairperson and candidate for Wicklow, Jack O'Connor said: "I am proud that the Labour Party opposed this referendum in 2004, but we are now seeing the direct result of it. It is clear that FG Ministers are speaking out of both sides of their mouth on this issue.

"It's all very well for these Ministers to put themselves on the side of the angels in a specific case in their own constituency but this barbaric deportation of Irish children is the logical consequence of their previous populist posturing.

"I want to thank the many members of the public, and Labour Party who have asked for action on this, and all those who have campaigned for Eric to stay in Ireland," he said.

Digital Desk