Reject citizenship Referendum

Working class people should oppose the Government's proposal to end the citizenship rights of children born here to non-nationals. The Referendum is formally about citizenship and the rights of refugees and immigrant workers and there is resentment among sections of society towards refugees and attempts will be made to further stoke it up.

This Government will bear full responsibility if the atmosphere over the next months puts refugees and immigrant workers in increased physical danger. In a more fundamental way, however, this Referendum is part of the offensive against the living standards of Irish working class people.

It is taking place purely because of the upcoming elections and is an attempt to diminish and divert the anger away from the Government and towards refugees. That way Fianna Fail and the PDs hope to minimise their loses on 11 June. Having lied their way back to power in 2002 they now want to rob this election. The better the Government do in the election, the more confident they will be to increase their attacks on everybody's living standards and rights. If they get away with discriminating and then dismissing the rights of children in such a manner, they will try a similar approach against working class people in the months ahead. It is clear that the media are going facilitate this con trick. It is in everyone's interest to vote against this Government and reject their Referendum.

Getting rid of the citizenship rights of such children born here will not dramatically alter the Government's ability to stop refugees from staying. They already have the law stacked in their favour on that score. They want to use the Referendum as a cover to re-enforce the view that refugees are contributing significantly to the health and housing crisis which affects Irish people.

Working class people are very angry because for many the Celtic Tiger did not deliver and now living standards are declining. Many people are getting desperate and believe they are in competition with refugees for scarce resources and services. Refugees and Irish people should be treated equally. Everybody's' rights and living standards should be immediately improved, including the right to decent health care and housing for all. Resentment towards non-nationals about the lack of proper services is mis-placed. These problems existed before there were any refugees and would still exist if there were none. These problems exist because of the abuse of the country's resources by the Government and big business. To really improve things their control of resources must be ended and that struggle starts with taking on this Government.

This scapegoating of refugees is fundamentally the same as the Government and media attacks on lone parents, teachers, nurses, anti bin charge activists and bus workers. All were outrageously accused of holding the country to ransom. In every case these workers were right to fight and in fact were the victims of attacks from the Government. They do the finger pointing precisely to try to cover the fact that they are responsible for the crisis in health, education, housing and transport. Voting for this Government or their Referendum will actually make things worse for working class people. Prejudice and division among the working class offers no way forward. Reject this Government and their Referendum.

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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