Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald produced a most interesting statement today, concerning Irish citizens travelling to fight in the Middle-East.
In the event of any information being brought to my attention, raising doubts about the good character of any naturalised citizen, I will not hesitate to invoke the statutory process, which is in place for the consideration of revoking citizenship.
I’d be fascinated to know precisely what our Justice Minister means by the term “good character” in a military conflict, and I’d be even more interested to find out if the Minister will apply this principle even-handedly across the political and religious spectrum.
I think we all agree that beheading and similar savagery by the likes of Islamic State is utterly repellent. I think we all agree that Islamic State needs to be crushed. We can probably all agree that mass murder of the citizens in a town is despicable, beyond all human decency and worthy of absolute repudiation. We can probably concur that mass bombardment of civilian populations by tyrannical regimes like IS and Bashar al-Assad is entirely unacceptable.
All well and good. Irish naturalised citizens who travel to Iraq or Syria and carry out beheadings or crucifixions should certainly be stripped of citizenship, as should those who engage in mass slaughter of civilians. They should be jailed. No decent society can possibly condone such behaviour.
It’s definitely evidence of bad character, which seems to be the Minister’s criterion.
However, in the interests of balance, will Frances Fitzgerald also remove citizenship from anyone who took part in the Israeli beheadings of Palestinians in Gaza, or does beheading have to be done with a knife before it becomes despicable? Is complete dismemberment by high explosive a different issue?
In the interest of balance, will Frances Fitzgerald disenfranchise any Irish citizens who participated in the artillery bombardment of Gaza, causing widespread terror, or is terror only dispensed by crazed Islamists? Is it relevant to one’s good character that more explosive force was exerted in that narrow strip of land than occurred in Hiroshima?
For that matter, will Frances Fitzgerald revoke the citizenship of everyone who has ever participated in mass-terror? Will that include people who fought for Middle-Eastern regimes, guerrilla movements, religious extremists, the Israeli Defence Forces and the United States?
Let’s be consistent about it. We’re great people for nit-picking consistency here in Ireland. We love our rules and regulations and therefore, if we’re really opposed to terror, could there be anything that fits the description of mass terror more neatly than Donald Rumsfeld’s vision of Shock and Awe?
Will Frances Fitzgerald issue an international arrest warrant for Rumsfeld?
While we’re at it, in the interests of consistency, why doesn’t Frances Fitzgerald remove citizenship from those religious-extremist Irish citizens who participated in the oppression of women? We’d all support that, but we can’t avoid looking at our own backyard where only a few weeks ago, a young girl was forced to have a Caesarean section so that her rapist might become a father.
I look forward to the time when Frances Fitzgerald tries to deprive the people responsible for that of their citizenship, but I won’t hold my breath. When shallow, small-town politicians huff and puff about terrorism, we know we’re dealing with lightweights looking for a cheap sound-bite.