Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ard Chomhairle to plan Sinn Féin campaign on citizenship referendum

15 April, 2004

In keeping with the party's policy of support for the right to citizenship by birth and following on from the 13 March meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle at which the party expressed its firm opposition to Minister for Justice Michael McDowell's proposal to amend the constitution, Sinn Féin will this weekend plan its campaign approach to the citizenship referendum.

Pointing to the strongly worded critical statements issued by party leadership including Gerry Adams and spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD on 10 March directly following the Minister's announcement, Deputy Ó Snodaigh reiterated:

"From the very first Sinn Féin has been firmly opposed to the referendum on the grounds that - it will aggravate racism; it will remove rights guaranteed under the Good Friday Agreement; the proposed timing and process are opportunist and irresponsible; the Minister has been unable to provide evidence for his claims and has misused aggregate statistics to mislead the public; the Government's proposals are the height of hypocrisy considering Ireland's history of emigration and benefit from similar laws in other countries; and there has been no consultation process whatsoever.

"What we need is not a change to the 1937 constitution, but a comprehensive compassionate reform of our immigration laws and a human rights-compliant, anti-racist immigration policy.

"Our concerns are shared by others, most notably the Human Rights Commission who believe that the proposed referendum may be inconsistent with our obligations under international law. For my part, I am not convinced that the Minister's conduct on this issue has been consistent with his undertakings as a signatory to the Anti-Racism Protocol for Political Parties which he and I have both signed up to.

"Therefore, even at this late stage I would call on the Minister to withdraw his proposal. If he and his Government insist, the referendum should certainly not

be run in conjunction with the local and EU elections. At the very least, the Government must engage in a proper process of consultation on the issue

including civil society, and use the appropriate mechanism - the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution." ENDS

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