Home Institution

University of Rochester

Publication Date

Spring 2004

Program Name

Ireland: Peace and Conflict Studies


In a world of increased globalization, the importance of citizenship may seem less and less important. However, I would assert that political belonging is becoming ever more important and is undergoing radical changes. The European Union (EU) is rapidly changing people’s understanding of citizenship. Rather than calling themselves Irish, people may soon be calling themselves European instead. Borders between countries are weakening and movement between them is increasing. Today a citizen of Latvia can live and work in Ireland as long as he or she so chooses. These changes in citizenship may actually have great implications for citizenship policy in the EU member-states.

As an American, it was easy for me to take my citizenship for granted. However, U.S. or EU citizenship can put one at a distinct advantage over members of other countries. Being a citizen of the U.S., I have access to a vast amount of resources that are unavailable in other countries across the globe. And, until recently, I had been under the impression that someone fortunate enough to be born in such a nation-state would be a citizen of that state and have the same rights as everyone else. Those born in the United States are automatically citizens of the U.S. The same is true in Ireland, but that may be about to change. Ireland has proposed a citizenship referendum that would bring its citizenship laws in line with every other member of the European Union. Instead of citizenship by place of birth, the other EU member-states base citizenship on a combination of descent and length of residency of the parent. While the EU is expanding citizenship, it seems that Ireland has reacted by curtailing its application of citizenship.

I hope to explore in this paper how the European Union is affecting citizenship entitlements in its member-states, as well as, why Ireland may be changing its application of citizenship. I have investigated these topics through the dialogue of the politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ireland. Their debate will continue through June 2004, but this paper describes and questions the current political discussion.


Human Geography | Public Policy


Article Location