Written Answers. - Naturalisation Process.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

951 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average delay in the processing of applications for Irish citizenship; the reasons for such delays; if these delays can be reduced; and if priority can be given to applicants of Irish descent who do not qualify automatically. [20714/00]

The average length of time taken to finalise an application for naturalisation is currently approximately two and a half years. While I appreciate that this may appear to be a long time it reflects the high volume of applications received, the various procedures involved and the pressure on resources in the immigration and citizenship division of my Department.

As part of the package of measures announced by the Government last May in relation to immigration and asylum issues significant additional staffing resources are being allocated to the immigration and citizenship division in my Department with a view,inter alia, to reducing the time involved in processing such applications and improving the service provided. These resources will in time impact considerably on the present delays.

The general policy being applied by my Department, in fairness to all applicants, is to deal with all cases in strict chronological order.

Question No. 952 taken with Question No. 888.