The number of persons that have applied for a Certificate of Naturalisation under section 15A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 as amended for the period from 29 November 2005 to 30 June 2012 is approximately 7,300. This section refers to the circumstances in which spouses of Irish citizens may become naturalised.
In the period in question the approximate number of applications approved, including a small number lodged before the 29 November 2005, is approximately 4,300, the number deemed to be ineligible was 400 and the total number refused was 160. The number of applications awaiting decision is some 2,800, almost 80% of which were lodged in 2011 and 2012 to date.
The Deputy will appreciate that naturalisation applications must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that citizenship is not undervalued and is given only to persons who satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria. The processing procedures, which I am satisfied are necessary to maintain the integrity of the naturalisation process, have been developed and refined over a number of years.
The procedures employed to assess an applicant for naturalisation include an initial examination upon receipt of each application to determine if the statutory application is completed fully. Incomplete application forms are returned to the applicant for further attention. Valid applications are then examined to determine if the applicant meets the statutory criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act such as good character and lawful residence, and, as appropriate, enquiries are made with the relevant Departments and agencies to establish if the applicant meets the requirements for the granting of naturalisation. Once these processes are completed, the application is submitted to me for a decision which I make in my absolute discretion by assessing the entirety of the information available to me.