The Irish bishops have issued a statement outlining their concerns over a proposed referendum to amend article 9 of the Constitution which will restrict the constitutional right of those born in Ireland (with foreign parents) to Irish citizenship. They said: 'This subject is one with serious moral and social, as well as legal, implications and it is important that voters are fully informed of the implications and are aware of the consequences of their choice. 'Above all, it is important to ensure that all people who find themselves in Ireland, children and adults, whether citizens or not, enjoy full protection of their fundamental human rights, without discrimination on the basis of race or origin. As human beings, they possess such rights independently of citizenship. This must always be the clear hallmark of the future constitutional and legal framework. Any vote cast with the intention of weakening or denying this principle would be morally wrong. 'The Constitution defines the fundamental ethos of the State. Changing the Constitution is always a serious matter. The bishops, therefore encourage all to exercise their democratic right and duty through taking part actively and responsibly in the debate and through voting. 'While recognising that the referendum has been called within the legal parameters established by the Constitution, it could be argued with some justification that a wider process of public consultation might have led to the possibility of a broader consensus on the way to address the serious issues that are at the heart of the debate. 'Many feel that in the current vibrant Irish economic climate, we should be offering greater hospitality and security to people of different national and racial backgrounds who come to our shores. Irish people have historically benefited much from the hospitality of other nations. Such people believe that leaving the current constitutional position unchanged would be an important sign in this direction. 'Others, while still desiring a more welcoming approach to immigrants, feel that the better path is to prudently regulate immigration and citizenship through appropriate norms and legislation, in accordance with international law. They are especially concerned to avoid exploitation or trafficking of persons. 'The referendum renders even more urgent the provision of a comprehensive, fair and transparent immigration policy. This is an important challenge to Ireland today. Without such a policy there is a real risk that the rights of refugees and the fundamentally important legal institution of asylum will be undermined.' Source: Irish Bishops Conference Media Office
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