>> 24 May 2004

The Republic's Citizenship Referendum

A poll in today's Irish Times gives a clear lead to the 'yes' camp amongst those who have already made up their mind on which way they will vote on June 11th. Of course Sinn Fein/IRA and the SDLP have been running around the political arena like headless chickens claiming that the referendum undermines the Belfast Agreement. What a strange, ironic world we live in. After all, the very nomenclature used by these parties when describing Northern Ireland runs contrary to the central theme of 'consent' so vaunted in that same agreement.

For the uninitiated who are all too familiar with the Irish separatist clarion call that the 'agreement was endorsed by all of the people of the island', let me provide a few salient points:

1. The people of the Irish Republic did not vote for the Belfast Agreement. They merely voted to amend their state's territorial claim to give effect to the British/Irish Annex in the Agreement. Moreover, vast swathes of the Agreement were not even incorporated into Irish domestic law.

2. The nonsensical contemporary Article 2 of Bunreacht na hEireann could (and has) be used as a loophole for those who have no links either with the Republic or, indeed, the wider European Union to gain the right to remain within the Union courtesy of having a child born with the island of Ireland.

3. Citizenship by the back door could also impact on us here in the United Kingdom - not only because of the commonality of residency rules throughout the EU, but also because of the Ireland Act 1949 which does not recognise Irish citizens as 'foreigners'.

Let us hope the citizens of the Irish Republic vote 'yes' on June 11th and do not allow their state to either become a haven for those on a mealticket, or allow their laws to be affected by the blandishments of Northern nationalists whose own 'affinity' with the Republic is, at best, dubious and, at worst, driven by self-centred, sentimentalist manipulation.


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