'All children should have equal access to citizenship', says Solidarity group

Eric Zhi Ying Xue from Bray, Co Wicklow was facing deportation last October.

Calls have been made to ensure everyone born in Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship after a number of high profile attempts to deport children.

The Dáil is to debate a Bill which would restore the eligibility of all people born here to claim citizenship.

The Solidarity group, which is bringing forward the Bill said it would undo the "Trump-style citizenship laws" following the 2004 referendum on the issue.

In October, there was widespread criticism after it emerged that Eric Zhi Ying Xue, a nine-year-old boy living in Bray, Co Wicklow was facing deportation to China, despite having been born here.

"All children should have equal access to citizenship regardless of their background," said Solidarity TD Paul Murphy.

He said Eric's case had outraged an entire community in Bray.

At the time the Minister for Health Simon Harris, said that Eric is Irish and has the same basis of being in the Wicklow community as he did.

"Our Bill now gives Minister Harris the opportunity to end any further cases of Irish-born children being deported."

Speaking ahead of a Dáil debate on Thursday, Dublin South-West TD Gino Kenny said the vast majority of people would find it "absurd" to deport a child who has lived in Ireland all their life.

He also dismissed the notion that more people would travel to Ireland if the law is relaxed.

"The idea that hundreds of thousands of people are going to come here for citizenship is ridiculous," he said.

Tina Ndlovu, who has been living in direct provision for the past three years, highlighted the fact that her son doesn't have Irish citizenship despite being born here.

"I am first and foremost concerned about kids who face deportations. They are Irish in reality, they are even learning Irish in school, they have adjusted to Irish culture. However, they are denied Irish citizenship," she said.

She also stressed that asylum seekers living in direct provision want to be allowed to work so they can assimilate fully into their communities and pay taxes.

While Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan relaxed the rules around asylum seekers seeking employment there are still a number of cases - including where a person is appealing decisions on their status - where they are still not allowed enter the workforce.

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