Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (127, 128, 135, 136)

Niall Collins

Question:

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures he is putting in place to ensure transparency and fairness in the application process for citizenship following the recent Supreme Court decision (details supplied) quashing a decision to refuse citizenship on the grounds that he had failed to give reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56027/12]

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Niall Collins

Question:

128. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the citizenship applications that have been rejected by him without explanations being given; if these cases are under review in view of the recent Supreme Court decision (details supplied) quashing a decision to refuse citizenship on the grounds that he had failed to give reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56028/12]

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Clare Daly

Question:

135. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review cases similar to Mallak v. the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, following the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the lack of transparency and fairness in the process of applying for Irish citizenship. [56090/12]

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Clare Daly

Question:

136. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to progress with the introduction of an independent review mechanism for those whose applications for Irish citizenship were turned down, following the highlighting of the lack of transparency and fairness in the process by the Supreme Court Mallak v. the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. [56091/12]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 128, 135 and 136 together.

The implications of the judgement of the Supreme Court referred to by the Deputies are being considered in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and any revised procedures arising will be implemented without delay. The Deputies should note that although the Supreme Court in its judgement quashed the Minister's decision to refuse the application in this particular case, it went on to say that it is not for the Court to prescribe whether the Minister will give notice of his concerns to the applicant or to disclose information on which they may be based or whether the Minister will continue to refuse to disclose reasons for the refusal but to provide justification for so doing. In the particular case it is open to the applicant to lodge a new application.

Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions include lawful residence, being of good character and having an intention to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation.

All applications for naturalisation are submitted to me for decision. I make my decision in my absolute discretion based on the entirety of the case presented and taking into account other important considerations which I as Minister have a duty to uphold such as the integrity of the immigration system, the economic and security interests of the State and its international relations.

It is open to any individual who is not satisfied with a decision to deem their application ineligible or a decision to refuse citizenship to lodge a new application for citizenship at any time in accordance with the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

To put the matter into context, since coming into office I have made decisions on over 37,200 applications of which 34,100 were approved. A total of 3,100 were deemed ineligible or were rejected because they did not comply with the statutory criteria. Only a very small number of applications that were refused fall within the consideration of the judgement in question.