Babies, bodies and entitlement: gendered aspects of access to citizenship in the Republic of Ireland

Steve J. Garner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the mid-1990s, automatic citizenship for children born in the Republic has been a source of growing debate against a backdrop of increasing immigration and the peace process. In June 2004, the debate culminated in a referendum, opening the way to a constitutional amendment that attaches residence qualifications to the hitherto unfettered entitlement to citizenship available through ius soli. Arguments for the amendment were couched in terms of a threat posed by Third World women having babies in Ireland to obtain residence, and a putative obligation to the EU to harmonise citizenship laws. This article explores how pregnant foreign women’s bodies became a site of perplexity about the borders of the twenty-first century Irish nation. It is therefore suggested that neither the ‘racial state’ theories nor feminist theories of the nation-state account fully for this. On closer inspection, the seemingly sui generis case of the Irish referendum is therefore fruitful in that it demands further reflection in terms of bridging gaps in the existing theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-451
Number of pages15
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Bibliographical note

© The Author [2007]. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government; all rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]


  • mid-1990s
  • citizenship
  • Republic of Irland
  • immigration


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