Irish presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon was locked in a war of words with her estranged sister Susan Stein last night after they clashed over the date when Ms Scallon took out US citizenship.
Londonderry’s former Eurovision winner firmly denied her sister Susan's claim that she (Dana) had taken out US citizenship before she became a presidential candidate in 1997.
“I did not become a (US) citizen until 1999,” said Dana. “I was not a citizen until 1999, so there was obviously a mistaken memory.”
Speaking from the US yesterday, Ms Stein contradicted her sister and said Dana had taken out US citizenship some time before she was a candidate in the 1997 presidential election.
Dana was also challenged on her claim that she had the same (dual citizenship) status of former Irish President and Taoiseach, the late Eamon de Valera.
Denying she had tried to keep her US citizenship secret, Dana said: “Why would I? Wasn't de Valera (a US citizen).”
But former Irish minister Eamon O Cuiv, the grandson of Mr de Valera, pointed out significant differences.
“He was an American citizen purely through his birth, and because he was born in America didn't have to go through any ceremony or take any oath,” said Mr O Cuiv.
Mr O Cuiv was referring to the oath that Dana took at the ceremony when she became a US citizen, demanding she renounce her allegiance to the state where she had been a citizen. Dana said yesterday that she read that section before taking the oath and told the official administering the oath: “I can't sign this if I am going to hand over my Irish citizenship, and he laughed and said ‘you don't have to'.”
However, an eminent senior counsel specialising in constitution law questioned Dana's interpretation of the oath that ended “so help me God”.
“She took an oath that she was abjuring (renouncing) her loyalty to the state of which she was previously a citizen,” said the senior counsel.
This is the oath that Dana swore: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”
At the time of going to Press, Dana had not responded to questions asking for the specific dates when she became a US citizen or if she would abide by the words in the oath she had taken to become a US citizen.