Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill, 1955—Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 7, Section 19, line 15, before "or" to insert "Provided always that an appeal shall lie to the High Court of Justice from such revocation."

I need not repeat what I said on the Committee Stage. It does appear to me that the act of depriving a naturalised alien of his citizenship is one of the gravest acts that one can conceive. If a person is to be subjected to some minor penalty, such as a fine or imprisonment, his case goes before a court, but, under the Bill as it stands, it lies with the Minister alone —I admit, after, possibly, a hearing by a committee—to deprive the person of the naturalisation which has been granted to him. He will there upon possibly become a stateless person. It appears to me that this is the sort of matter that should go to the courts of justice, and should not lie entirely in the hands of the Minister. I agree that, under the Bill, the question of whether naturalisation will be granted is a matter for the Minister, but when it comes to a question of removing what has been granted, I submit that it should be a matter for the courts.

I would like to support Senator Cox's amendment. As was argued by some Senators on the Second Reading, words like "duty" and "fidelity to the nation" and "loyalty to the State" could be rather widely interpreted. There is, I think, some danger that these are clauses which might be used improperly. We generally trust to the wisdom and discretion of Ministers, but we cannot predict the future. I think Senator Cox's amendment is necessary, and I hope the House will give it full support.

It should be remembered, in the first instance, that the provisions of this section are an improvement on the present law from the point of view of Senator Cox and from the point of view of persons who have certificates of naturalisation. Under the present law, the Minister may revoke at will any certificates of naturalisation. That provision is now very much modified by the sub-section of Section 19, but, if the amendment were accepted, I think it would need considerable re-drafting because, as it stands at present, it would not do.

Under the Bill as we have it here, the Minister may revoke a certificate of naturalisation "if he is satisfied". The court will be called upon to say that he is not satisfied. It is a rather difficult matter. You would want to reframe the whole business, if you are to provide for appeal to the High Court. It seems to me that the general view in all countries that I have been able to make acquaintance with is that the Minister grants a certificate of naturalisation and generally takes it away with no safeguard whatever.

In Section 19, a safeguard is provided by the setting up of a tribunal. Senator Stanford referred to matters of loyalty to the State as being rather vague compared with the crime of treason, but I should like to say that it is not quite for the courts to establish these things and in all the circumstances it would be much better to leave it to the Minister.

There is, of course, some theoretical advantage in giving the person an appeal to the courts, but you give an alien a certain privilege, and I think it is fair that he should be deprived of that privilege by the Minister who gave it to him, subject to certain safeguards; but there is always this, that if he is deprived unjustly, there is always resort to the members of the Dáil and Seanad, because it is ultimately an administrative act which can be challenged in either House. In that way, something could be done about it. I am not sure that the precise circumstances which would surround the removal of a certificate of naturalisation are exactly the kind of circumstances to be dealt with by the courts.

On the whole, it seems to me that the section itself is an improvement upon the present law from the point of view of the holder of a certificate and that it does make substantial advances, and it would not be advisable to take the further step which Senator Cox desires.

We are unable to accept the amendment for the reasons explained by Senator Hayes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 7, Section 19, line 21, before "during" to insert "without reasonable excuse".

It might happen that a person who had a naturalised child might be abroad for reasons of health. I think the introduction of these words could not in any way weaken the power of the Minister, but it would put it on the face of the Act that there was a clause of leniency in respect of such person.

Would the Senator be satisfied with the words "reasonable excuse" inserted after the word "and" in line 21, so that the sentence would run: "for a continuous period of seven years and without reasonable excuse and has not during that period registered annually...."

I am agreeable.

Does the House agree to that change?


Amended amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 8, Section 21, line 19, to delete "of an alien" and insert "of parents both of whom are aliens".

It would appear to me to be a very strong thing that a parent could, without the consent of the other parent, who is a citizen, renounce the citizenship of a child. I hope the Minister will accept this amendment.

If one were to accept Senator Cox's idea, would it not rather require that the whole of the section should be deleted or redrafted? I do not think it is a matter of very great importance. I do not envisage many cases where one of the parents will desire to deprive his child of Irish citizenship and certainly the simple amendment Senator Cox suggests would not do the job. I am not sure that the thing is something which should be done at all. The section refers to a child under a parent or guardian and it also refers to consular officers who occupy a special position. On the whole, I think it would be better to leave it as it is. If it were not left as it is, it would involve considerably more than the amendment Senator Cox has put down.

I would accept the suggestion of Senator Hayes to drop the section altogether.

I did not say that. I said it would need to be done.

I should remind the House that this is the Report Stage.

I am prepared to meet the Senator and to withdraw the sub-section, if the Senator presses the matter.

I would ask that that should be done.

That would mean general consent.

Would Senator Cox move an amendment to the effect that sub-section (3) be deleted?

With the express permission of the House, I move the amendment:—

That sub-section (3) of Section 21 be deleted.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment, No. 4:—

In page 10, Section 28, lines 13 and 14, to delete "other than a naturalised Irish citizen".

The amendment relates to Section 28 of the Bill which provides that any Irish citizen, other than a naturalised Irish citizen, may apply to the Minister, or if resident outside Ireland, to any Irish diplomatic officer or consular officer for a certificate of nationality. The result of it would be that a naturalised citizen, if abroad, would be able to apply to a diplomatic officer or consular officer for a certificate that he was in fact an Irish citizen. I suggest that it might arise—it was mentioned on Committee Stage that naturalised citizens always got a certificate—that a certificate might be lost or mislaid and the occasion might arise in a foreign country where such a person would require such a certificate. In the normal course, I am sure the consular officer would help the person, but if you have this statement that these facilities are not open to naturalised Irish citizens, it could possibly lead to difficulty.

I do not see how this works. I do not know how one of our diplomatic representatives can issue a certificate to anyone, a certificate of nationality, unless he gets some proof. If the person concerned is a Hungarian and not an Irishman, how could the consular officer issue a certificate that he is an Irish citizen without sending home for proof? Presumably, if I or some of the members of the Seanad were in difficulty in that way, we would have some method of proving that we were Irish, but a naturalised citizen could be of any nationality and the diplomatic representative would have to get some proof from home of the fact that he is an Irish citizen. I cannot see the point of what Senator Cox is trying to get at. I recently had a case where a foreigner came to me after he had obtained nationality, stating that he wanted to get a police permit. I could not get it for him because there is no such thing and it took a long time to convince him that it could not be get I do not feel that this amendment would achieve anything or could be accepted.

The case might arise where such a certificate might be required.

If the person concerned was an Irish man or woman, the diplomatic representative would soon know that.

I was just pointing out the position in regard to a naturalised citizen who may have lost his certificate.

The Senator cannot have a discussion on the amendment on Report Stage.

I would ask the Senator not to press the amendment.

As the Minister has asked me, I will not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Might I raise a point on administration?

If it arises from the Bill, yes.

In Section 26, the Minister has a right by Order to declare that citizens of the country shall enjoy in the State similar citizenship rights, and so on. Under Section 8, sub-section (1), a woman who is married to an Irish citizen in this country does not receive full citizenship, unless she makes the necessary declaration. In England, Irish citizens who go there and marry Englishmen have the right to vote given to them very rapidly. I know of one case of a woman who married an Irishman here, who has been living in the country for some 20 years and who has recently lost her right to vote. I would ask the Minister to consider making an Order granting the right to vote to such people, if it is possible under this Act. It seems an extraordinary situation that if our citizens have the right to vote in England, English citizens, especially those who marry Irishmen, and have become naturalised, have not the same right. I would ask the Minister to clarify the situation if I am wrong, or, if I am right, to take steps to remedy the situation.

I do not think voting and citizenship are the same thing. I do not think voting has a bearing on citizenship. I think the Minister in this Bill has no power to confer the right to vote.

I think Section 20 might be so construed as to grant the right to vote.

If this statement of Senator Hayes is correct, that voting does not bear on citizenship, then I would very much like to know why it is that certain people have been struck off the register here in recent years.

It has no bearing on voting. There is no doubt about that.

I think the Senator is raising matters outside the scope of the Bill, but, if the Minister wishes to make a statement, the House will facilitate him.

I think it is a local government matter, really.

Question put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil.
The Seanad adjourned at 6.10 p.m.sine die.