The Irish Government has rejected a bill that would give citizenship rights to children born in Ireland to non-national parents.
The proposed Labour Party Bill would give citizenship rights to Irish-born after they lived in the country for more than three years.
The bill, backed by Labour senators Ivana Bacik and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, would amend the current citizenship laws irrespective of these children's parent's status.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the outlined proposals amounted to “bad law” but said he would also be “instituting a process of consultation on some of the issues raised.”
Here is my speech during last night's debate on @labour's citizenship bill for Irish children. Proud of my @labour colleagues @ivanabacik @geraldnash and @KHumphreysDBS and grateful for the support of a majority of senators who passed second stage of the bill last night. pic.twitter.com/yOtpXYOslj— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (@AodhanORiordain) November 22, 2018
The proposed bill comes in the wake of several high profile cases. Most notably, that of 9-year-old Wicklow schoolboy Eric Zhi Ying Xue who had been facing deportation despite being born and raised in Ireland.
While the boy's plight prompted national outrage, some were quick to remind Irish citizens that in a referendum in 2004, 79% of the public voted against an automatic entitlement to citizenship for those born in the country.
Minister for Health and Wicklow representative, Simon Harris, still made representations to Minister Flanagan’s department on the young boy's behalf. It was soon announced that Eric was not to face imminent deportation.
In the wake of the case, Labour has said that their bill would negate the need to hold another referendum and give Irish-born children the right to remain in Ireland regardless of the immigration status of their parents.
“Our Bill would seek to regularize the position of children born in Ireland who have been resident here for at least three years and who are currently potentially facing deportation in some cases depending on the status of their parents,” Ivana Bacik said.
The Senator also said the existing system deals with cases in an "arbitrary" way.
“We have seen some recent cases where children have been treated in this unjust way despite the fact that they have been born in Ireland, they know no other home and they are effectively stateless if we do not give them permission to remain here.”
“We have seen these cases being dealt with in an arbitrary way on the basis of the discretion of the minister, and we say that is not good enough and it has led to injustice in specific cases," she added.
“We do need to do something in our law to regularize the position of a small number of children to whom this applies.”
An article that followed on the New York Times reads,
"Ireland, which seems intent on bucking the illiberal tide in the West, is at it again: As other countries move to tighten restrictions on immigration, the Irish public is overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to reinstate birthright citizenship."
However, the article notes, "As popular as it may be, the birthright citizenship proposal has one critical opponent: the Irish government, which says it will seek to defeat the new bill."