We must debate referendum issues calmly

THE Government’s proposal for a referendum on June 11 is to amend Article 9 of the Constitution.

If the referendum is passed this will have the effect of returning to the Oireachtas the power to decide the citizenship entitlements of people born on the island of Ireland, neither of whose parents is an Irish citizen.

The Government has published the proposed draft of an Irish Nationality and Citizenship Amendment Bill 2004 which will be put before the Oireachtas for debate if this referendum is passed.

In broad terms, the bill will provide that in the case of a child born to non-national parents at least one of the parents will have to have been in residence in Ireland for three of the four years preceding the birth of the child before the child becomes entitled to Irish citizenship.

Children who have already acquired citizenship in Ireland through birth to date will not be affected by any new proposed legislation

If the parent of a child born anywhere in Ireland is a British national, the child will be entitled to Irish citizenship regardless of the length of residence of the parent in Ireland.

This new law, if passed, will compare favourably with that of most EU member states. In addition the entitlement to Irish citizenship for children born in Ireland will compare favourably to most comparable countries outside the EU.

This referendum is about regulating citizenship no more and no less. I hope that the debate concerning this political matter will take place in a calm atmosphere.

Gerard Collins, MEP,

Abbeyfeale,

Co Limerick.

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