Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (577)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

577. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure to be followed to facilitate an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35127/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received. Full details of the eligibility criteria and extensive guidelines are available on the website of the Immigration Service at www.inis.gov.ie 

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and I know the Deputy will appreciate that it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

I am aware that the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts with the lodgement of an appeal before the Court of Appeal and is therefore sub-judice. I can, however, assure the Deputy that my Department is continuing to work on finding solutions to the situation as quickly as possible. The best interests of both current and future applicants are foremost in these considerations. 

On 25 July 2019, I obtained Cabinet approval for the drafting of a Bill, which seeks to resolve the issue.  My officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office to have a bill drafted on an urgent basis and be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible on resumption of business in mid-September. Further updates, as they become available, will be posted on the website of the Immigration Service.

Those who are planning to apply for citizenship should continue to collect all the necessary proofs that support their application and to submit a comprehensive application form. Once a solution is in place, if any additional information is required, applicants will be contacted as part of the processing of the application.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility, which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.