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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Ireland Set to Close Immigration Loophole

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Ireland Set to Close Immigration Loophole
Proposed changes to Irish citizenship laws are expected to be ratified tonight in a referendum to tighten the State’s immigration regulations.

More than half of the country’s 34 electoral districts have recorded between 70 and 80% of the poll in favour of the constitutional change.

If passed parents of Irish-born children will no longer have the right to claim citizenship in the country.

Turnout for the poll was expected to be around the 60% mark, with many voters taking the chance to exercise their franchise in the local and European elections as well.

This compares with a low of 35% in the first referendum on the Nice Treaty in June 2001.

The Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrat coalition Government said the result indicated their decision to call for the constitutional change.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said: “We brought it to the people on a day when they would be turning out in large numbers and we said at the beginning of this government that we would be bringing constitutional change.”

Mr McDowell claimed the change was necessary to close a loophole in the country’s citizenship laws, and to prevent abuse of the system by bringing it into line with the rest of the European Union.

The referendum followed an European Court ruling last month that the parents of children born in the Northern Ireland or the Republic could claim citizenship.

The European Court of Justice found Man Levette Chan’s daughter Catherine, who was born in Belfast in 2000, had the right to reside in the UK on the basis of being Irish and hence an EU, citizen.

It also decided that Catherine’s mother, a Chinese national who would otherwise not be entitled to reside in the UK, may invoke a right of residence from that of her daughter.

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