Rethinking Citizenship Per Se: Revisiting the 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum a Decade Later

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n June 2004 the Irish electorate voted to remove automatic entitlement to birthright citizenship (jus soli), which had been in place since the foundation of the Irish state, in response to accusations by the Irish Government that migrant parents were abusing this provision by appealing to their child’s right, as an Irish citizen born in Ireland, to live in Ireland with their family. The main reading of this referendum, which reflects broader citizenship analysis, is that it resulted in a lamentable turn towards a regulatory model of citizenship by descent and away from a nondiscriminatory inclusive regulatory model of birthright citizenship. However I suggest that a different reading which shifts attention away from valorizing the unconditional birthright citizenship model is possible by focusing on the slogan which adorned the main banner at the 10 year anniversary rally for this referendum and read ‘Who lives here belongs here’. This slogan draws attention away from questions about citizenship regulation and challenges in important ways sedimented thinking about citizenship more generally. It results in uncomfortable questions about what we presume ‘progressive’ (inclusive) citizenship should look like.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Democracy: free thinking for the world
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • citizenship, 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum Anniversary,


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