Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (271)

Seán Haughey

Question:

271. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 in order that applicants for certificates of naturalisation can travel abroad freely for reasons connected with their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52842/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The residency criterion for an application for a certificate of naturalisation is laid out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended. Short absences for holidays, family emergencies etc. are permitted. I am however, considering extending the permitted absences and I have asked my officials to make the necessary preparations.

The Court of Appeal on 14 November found, on appeal from a decision of the High Court to the contrary, that I was within my powers in making allowance for absences of up to 6 weeks from the State.  Consideration is being given to that ruling by my officials to ensure that our procedures are consistent with the Act, while permitting flexibility on the part of applicants.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that we have already been able to resume granting citizenship to successful applicants; on 9 December 2019 over 2,000 persons were granted Irish citizenship. Additional ceremonies are planned for early 2020 to deal with the applications on hand.

As the Deputy will appreciate, 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 it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.