Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (635)

Maureen O'Sullivan


635. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way he plans to address the continuous residence requirement for persons applying for citizenship; and the number of applications for citizenship affected by a ruling (details supplied). [35965/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

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 am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that, as of 3 September 2019, there were 15,647 applications for citizenship on hand. All of these applicants are potentially affected by the ruling. To date this year a total of 2,981 adults and 849 minors have been naturalised. I am further advised that this ruling is not considered to have consequences for anyone who has already obtained citizenship under the Act.

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 and 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 also be posted on the website of the Immigration Service.

The Immigration Service is advising those who are planning to apply for citizenship to continue to collect all of 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 their application.

Questions Nos. 636 to 638, inclusive, answered with Question No. 533.