Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (212, 216, 221)

Eugene Murphy


212. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the first draft of new legislation will be brought forward which will grant applicants for Irish citizenship the right to be absent from the country for a set period of time; when clarity will be provided on the issue in view of the fact that the High Court ruling regarding same is causing distress for applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38335/19]

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Róisín Shortall


216. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his previous e-mail (details supplied), the position regarding legislation to address a recent High Court judgment on citizenship rights; if citizenship eligibility rules will be brought into line with other countries in which applicants are allowed 90 days or more per year outside the country prior to their application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38413/19]

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Ruth Coppinger


221. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the Irish nationality and citizenship (amendment) Bill will pass both Houses of the Oireachtas in view of the practical difficulties that arise for applicants for naturalisation from a recent court ruling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38579/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 216 and 221 together.

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 doing everything possible to put in place a solution on an urgent basis. I have taken expert legal advice and I intend to introduce legislation to address the issue. At the end of July, I obtained Cabinet approval for a proposed Bill and intensive work is taking place in my Department where officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General's Office to finalise the draft Bill.

I am advised that the appeal is likely to be heard early next month. The outcome of the appeal will, of course, have a bearing on whether or not legislation is required. Should it be necessary, I intend to introduce the Bill in the Oireachtas as soon as possible this term. I know that colleagues of all parties are concerned with the difficulty that has arisen and I am hopeful that the Oireachtas will give the Bill early and positive consideration.

As soon as the legal issues are resolved, my officials will make all necessary arrangements for the next Citizenship Ceremony. Invitations will issue four weeks in advance of the ceremony to ensure everyone has adequate notice.

In the interim, the Immigration Service of my Department 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.