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Image / Editorial

70% of people now think being born in Ireland should mean an automatic right to citizenship

by Jennifer McShane
19th Nov 2018

As we know, being born in Ireland doesn’t currently guarantee you an automatic right to citizenship. You may be entitled to Irish citizenship if you were born on Irish soil but this is currently based on when and where you were born, and/or your ancestry – the right was removed in a 2004 referendum.

However, a new poll by the Sunday Times has shown that more than seven in ten people are in favour of an automatic right to Irish citizenship for people born here. This is despite the fact that the right was previously removed in a 2004 referendum.

Following the 2004 citizenship referendum, children born in Ireland are only entitled to automatic citizenship if at least one of their parents is a citizen or is entitled to be.

The poll, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes and published in the Sunday Times, comes on the back of a number of high-profile cases of children facing deportation in recent weeks. On two separate instances, two young schoolboys were faced with deportation, including a nine-year-old from Bray.

Eric Zhi Ying Mei Xue was born in Ireland but threated with deportation after his mother Leena, despite living in the country for 12 years, was served a deportation order in 2015.   A successful appeal was launched with over  60,000 people signing a petition calling for 4th class pupil to remain in Ireland. It was a success.

According to recent reports, over 130 boys and girls under the age of 18 have been deported from Ireland since 2013, which may explain the shift in opinion, despite the 2004 referendum poll being passed by 79%.

Asked about the rules on citizenship, there was a strong backing for automatic citizenship, with 71% saying they believed being born here should automatically entitle a person to citizenship and only 19% saying it should not.

10% said they either didn’t know or had no opinion.