The Minister for Justice has been accused of side stepping his obligations to Irish children born to non-national parents.
Michael McDowell has signalled that he intends to change the constitutional right of these children by holding a referendum.
A number of children's rights groups has said the Minister's proposal casts serious doubt on the current programme of deportations.
Chief Executive of the Children's Rights Alliance Ray Dooley said, "Our focus has been on the situation whereby 1000 families or nearly 11 thousand Irish citizen children’s parents are facing deportation.
"Yesterday’s announcement in regards to a referendum inclusively recognises that those children do have constitution right, we feel it side steps the issue as to how those rights are going to be filled."