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The National Women’s Council of Ireland urges women to VOTE NO in the Citizenship Referendum

Published: Monday, May 31, 2004

A clear message was sent to the government today that women will not be scapegoated in the up-coming referendum on Citizenship. ''This referendum has sent out an irresponsible message at the expense of women and children and we are calling all women to vote no on June 11th '', said Joanna Mc Minn, Director, at the launch of the NWCI 'Vote No' Campaign and Information Leaflet, at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

'' The proposed referendum blames women and children for the government's failure to properly resource the Irish maternity and health services. This lack of funding is not new; over the last decade the government has been closing beds in maternity wards, how can they now place the blame for their inaction on a small group of extremely vulnerable women?''

''The NWCI, which represents 300,000 women in Ireland, will not remain silent while the government rushes through fundamental change in our constitution without including women in meaningful discussions on the issue of immigration and citizenship.''

Dr McMinn continued; ''Despite being repeatedly asked to do so the Government has shown no substantive evidence to back up their claims that a large number of women are arriving in the country, in late stages of pregnancy, simply for their children to obtain citizenship.''

The NWCI's call for a NO VOTE was supported by a number of speakers:

  • Dr Patricia Kennedy Dept. of Social Policy and Social Work, UCD
  • Aisling Reidy Director, ICCL
  • Salome Mbugua AKIDWA (African Women's Network)
  • Joan Rippingale, Dublin District President, Council on Social Responsibility of the Methodist Church in Ireland

''What Ireland needs now is a fair and comprehensive immigration policy that is compassionate, anti-racist and recognises the rights and needs of women. The NWCI wants migrant women and children to be valued and respected for the contribution they make to our economy and society'' Dr McMinn concluded.