New Bill will offer Irish citizenship to children born in Ireland to foreign parents

Charlie Flanagan and Ivana Bacik

The government is debating a bill that would protect children born in Ireland to foreign parents from deportation.

The Labour party say the current system is unjust with some children facing deportation even though they have never lived in another country.

They want to change the law so that a child would become eligible for Irish citizenship if they have lived in Ireland for three years.

Charlie Flanagan and Ivana Bacik

However, the government is opposed to a change to the law saying that the proposed bill is a ‘kneejerk reaction’ to a recent case.

The case involved nine-year-old Eric Zhi Ying Xue who was born in Ireland but could potentially be deported to China under the current law.

He faces no imminent threat of deportation but his case brought the issue into the spotlight.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan says that Labour’s Bill is full of issues, amounts to ‘bad law’ and will not be accepted by the government.

Instead, Mr Flanagan wans to open a consultation process into some of the issues raised in the Bill. He added that any law must ensure that Ireland complies with European Union best practice and does not cause issues with the Common Travel Area (CTA) with Britain.

The Bill was launched by Labour Senator Ivana Bacik who said that concerns over children facing deportation were widespread.

Her Bill would see that children born in Ireland and having lived here for at least three years would be considered for Irish citizenship regardless of where their parents came from.

Ms Bacik said: “The children know no other home but Ireland and that they are effectively stateless if we do not give them permission to remain here.”

She added that her Bill would: “Adjust the situation in Irish citizenship law to deal with the position of a small number of children who we say are currently being done an injustice because they face deportation.”

Ms Bacik also spoke about the problems with Ireland’s immigration system which can see parents seeking asylum being made to wait many years to have their applications processed.

She said: “We have a situation where we have a small number of children who’ve been born here, who’ve lived here all through their childhood, and whose parental status has still not been determined.

“It’s a small number of hard cases and we should legislate for those.

“In those cases we should be able to grant the children citizenship rights based on residence and birth-right as well, irrespective of the status of the parents”.

The Bill which is set to be debated in the Seanad tomorrow.

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling