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Citizenship and the Biopolitics of Post-nationalist Ireland

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In June 2004 voters in the Republic of Ireland endorsed a constitutional amendment to deprive children born on the island of Ireland of their previously automatic right to Irish citizenship. This change came amid increasing immigration and so-called ‘baby tourism’, whereby non-national mothers were alleged to be coming to Ireland to give birth for the sole purpose of bestowing Irish citizenship on their children. This article sets the referendum in its historical and contemporary context. Along with recent jurisprudence of the Irish Supreme Court, the amendment betokens a distinctive biopolitics orchestrated according to neo-liberal themes consonant with Ireland's membership of the European Union and its foreign direct investment strategy. As such, the amendment confirms the shift in Irish constitutional history from autarkic nationalism to cosmopolitan post-nationalism embodied in the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Liverpool Law School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZS, England, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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