UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changed utterly? continuity and change in the regulation of Irish identities McNamee, Ciaran


The Supreme Court decision of A.O. & D.L. v. Minister for Justice [Lobe] and the Irish Citizenship Referendum of 2004 had the cumulative effect of restricting both the rights associated with Irish citizenship and the class of persons entitled to possess it. This thesis considers the dynamics underpinning those restrictions. The history of the regulation of Irish identities is not simply a story of ever tightening border controls. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland in 1998 seemingly widened the class of person entitled to call themselves Irish. Moreover, the Republic of Ireland's membership of the European Union has reduced the state's ability to exercise control over its borders and narrowed the distinction between Irish citizens and those of other EU countries. I argue that recent developments in the regulation of Irish identities demonstrate the Janus-like nature of modern law. Accepting the arguments advanced in Lobe and the Citizenship Referendum necessitates the embrace of contradiction, not rationality. They illustrate both continuity and change in the conception of what it means to be Irish. Measures to reduce perceived "abuse" of Irish citizenship seek to preserve a particular concept of Irishness and yet simultaneously serve to transform it. However, with its adherence to the creed of modernity - reason, objectivity, and the rejection of ambiguity - modern law cannot acknowledge these tensions.

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