Fianna Fáil TD criticised for seeking Muslim citizenship data

Eamon Scanlon apologises for asking how many Muslims had sought Irish citizenship

A Fianna Fáil TD has been compared to Donald Trump by a senior Muslim leader after he asked a question in the Dáil about how many Muslims have sought Irish citizenship.

Sligo-Leitrim TD Eamon Scanlon asked Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald for the number of Muslims who had applied for Irish citizenship in the past three years, and how many of those were legally living here over that period.

In her answer to the parliamentary question last Thursday, the Tánaiste said the form for citizenship applications did not have a requirement for details of a person’s religion and, accordingly, the information was not available.

After he was questioned in recent days on social media about why he had asked the question about the number of Muslims applying for citizenship, Mr Scanlon said on Tuesday the question had been “misinterpreted” and apologised for any offence caused.


“I put down a PQ (parliamentary question) in relation to the number of Muslims who have applied for Irish citizenship as a constituent was inquiring about this issue,” he said.

Twitter users had asked the TD why it mattered what religion someone was when they were applying for citizenship and a number suggested the question was discriminatory.

Sinn Féin councillor Sarah Holland said it “shouldn’t matter” what religion someone was and that “you could be a Jedi for all it should concern” Mr Scanlon.

Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, Sheikh Dr Umar Al-Qadri told The Irish Times he had not expected such a question from a Fianna Fáil TD.

“This person was really reminding me of Donald Trump.

“Why would he ask these questions? Obviously he was assuming that all Muslims are refugees and they’re all probably problematic, they’re not integrating and all that. That coming from a TD, which is very worrying.”

Dr Al-Qadri said it was “good” that Mr Scanlon had apologised but he believed there had been pressure on him to do so.

Dr Al-Qadri said that generally Ireland was a "very welcoming community" but was "not immune to bigotry".

He said he been in Ireland for 12 years but had seen a rise in Islamophobia here in the last two years in particular. Dr Al-Qadri said this was perhaps because of “the rise of Daesh, of Isis”.

“It’s worrying, because you’ve got one community – a community that’s a very diverse community that consists of 1.6 billion people – and to paint them all the same brush and then to marginalise them, that’s something that’s just not acceptable.”

Dr Al-Qadri said the reported rise of racise attacks in Britain in recent days since the Brexit vote was also of concern.

The Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council was established to provide a forum for the Irish Muslim community to speak as one on matters relating to their wellbeing in Ireland, and to help promote integration.