A week or so ago in Dublin, 4,000 new Irish citizens were created. Do they know what they were getting into? Their new status allows them to carry an Irish passport and to vote in referendums, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told them. “You entered this room as citizens from over 100 different countries. You’re going to leave this room all being citizens of the one country. You are now truly part of the Irish family, truly part of Irish society living on this island and part and parcel of what makes us, as a State, what we are.” In their oath of citizenship, the new citizens declared “I solemnly swear my fidelity to the Irish nation and my loyalty to the State. I undertake to faithfully observe the laws of the state and to respect its democratic values”.
Boy, I’d hate to be a Lithuanian or a Nigerian trying to make sense of that. Take Shatter’s statement: “You’re going to leave this room all being citizens of the one country”. Right. And that one country would be, Mr Shatter? Well, Ireland, naturally. But, I ask in my Lithuanian or Nigerian persona, where does Ireland begin and end? And when I swore that bit about fidelity to the Irish nation, how come I had to add “and my loyalty to the State”? Talk about talking out of two sides of your mouth at the same time.
And by the way (back in my Irish persona again), how come that 4,000 immigrants to Ireland have at least one advantage over those of us born and bred and living here – they can vote in referendums?
It’s past time someone asked Mr Shatter or Mr Kenny what they mean when they talk about “Ireland”, what their feelings are about the fact that part of Ireland is controlled from London, and that some 5,000 British troops are stationed on the country to which 4,000 people recently swore fidelity in Dublin.