Thursday, 26 September 2019

Questions (111)

Bernard Durkan


111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the termination of entitlement to citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39231/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that an application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 7 May 2019 and that processing of this application is on-going.

With regard to the Deputy's reference to termination of citizenship, I take this to refer to 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), which I am aware has given cause for concern to many applicants. 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.

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.