I move amendment No. 1:
In page 3, to delete lines 10 and 11.
We had a long debate on Committee Stage on this radical Bill which seeks to delimit in a serious way the rights of Irish citizens and of their spouses to become Irish citizens in future and to give an exclusive right to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to make determinations at his absolute discretion on matters that, until now, were matters of right. As I indicated throughout Committee Stage, I am implacably opposed to this shift because I do not see any justification for it and, as we did not hear any justification for it in all the hours of debate we have had on Committee Stage, I intend to oppose the measure again on Report Stage.
I tabled amendment No. 1 to delete in the definition section the reference to the Act of 1956. The purpose of the amendment in so doing is to retain the existing scheme for handling these matters which was set out in the 1956 Act, that is, the right of spouses of citizens to become Irish citizens once a simple set of procedures is complied with. We will deal with the meat of these subjects in subsequent amendments. I begin as I intend to continue, by fighting this proposal line by line and as best I can. I begin by seeking to have the definition section amended so that exist ing provisions outlined in the 1956 Act which have served the country well and have given certainty to Irish citizens where their marriages and the rights of their spouses are concerned are retained for the future.
This double blow at rights, one aimed at Irish citizens and relating to their right to ensure that their spouses or future spouses can have the precious gift of Irish citizenship given as of right, the other aimed at the future spouses of Irish citizens who will marry those citizens with a new cloud of uncertainty hanging over their future status, is wrong. I have not heard any clear, cogent or convincing reason from the Minister at any stage in the debate on either Second or Committee Stages to justify this draconian change in basic laws and rights. This first amendment is to ensure the status quo which has served the country reasonably well is maintained since there is not any clear or reasonable explanation for what the Minister proposes to do in this measure.