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Proposed referendum should have been referred to constitution committee for consideration

11 March, 2004


Sinn Féin member of the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Constitution Arthur Morgan TD has attacked the Government's failure to refer the issue of Irish citizenship and the question of the rights of citizen children of non-national parents to that Committee.

Deputy Morgan said:

"The issue of Irish citizenship and the question of the rights of citizen children of non-national parents should have been referred to the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Constitution in the first instance. This is the appropriate forum for considering the issues involved. It can still and should be done. The Committee, which is about to complete its consideration of the issue of property rights, should then be given adequate time to hold hearings and to take submissions from groups including the Human Rights Commission, the Equality Authority and the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism. When one considers that this was done in the case of abortion and property rights where the Committee took a considerable time to take submissions and hold hearings, it beggars belief that the Government is proposing to hold a referendum in the absence of allowing the Committee to consider the matter and to consult widely with interested groups.

"I am not suggesting that Sinn Féin would then support such a proposal but we believe that is the proper process which should have been followed. The failure to ask the Constitution Committee to consider this matter is once again a typical example of Minister McDowell fast- tracking proposals that fit with his ideological outlook.

"Minister McDowell and the Government have seriously undermined the role that the Oireachtas All-Party Committee has to play in considering all constitutional questions." ENDS

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