Dáil Éireann - Volume 586 - 27 May, 2004

Written Answers - Citizenship Referendum.

  199. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the need for a referendum on citizenship when only 1% of newly born babies countrywide in 2003 were born to women who were non-Irish nationals out of a total of 60,000 babies born in Irish hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16058/04]

  Mr. McDowell: I cannot accept that the contention implicit in the Deputy’s question has any basis in fact. If it were true, the total figure for births to non-nationals in the State in 2003 would be 600 but the number of births to non-nationals for 2003 in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, alone exceeds that figure by 88. The total figure for births to non-nationals in Dublin maternity hospitals for 2003 is 5,471.

The referendum on citizenship arises from the need to eliminate an aspect of our law that exposes Irish citizenship to abuse. I have outlined the circumstances of that abuse in my contributions to the Dáil and Seanad during the debates on the Twenty Seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004. In summary, the abuse comes about by virtue of the fact that under the law as it stands, it is possible for someone who has no connection with Ireland to arrange their affairs so as to give birth to a child in Ireland, whereupon that child acquires an entitlement to Irish citizenship. This is not acceptable to me nor, in my view, to the Irish people at large.