Written Answers. - Citizenship Law.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

460 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to reform nationality laws and bring them in line with those of other EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27836/01]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

461 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to review nationality legislation regarding automatic citizenship for persons born in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27837/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 460 and 461 together.

I presume the Deputy's questions relate to section 6 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2001, which provides that every person born in Ireland is entitled to be an Irish citizen. This feature of Irish citizenship law is unique in the European Union and unusual worldwide. In other EU member states the citizenship of a child born in that state is generally dependent on the citizenship of the parents and/or the status and duration of residence of the parents in the state concerned.

The entitlement to citizenship by birth is also a constitutional right arising from Article 2 of the Constitution. Accordingly, a constitutional amendment would be required before any alteration of the existing statutory provision.

The Supreme Court, in its decision in the Fajujonu case [1990]2 IR 151, found that an Irish citizen child had the right to the company of its non-national parents and that such parents had a strong claim to be allowed to reside in the State for that purpose. In the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of applications from non-nationals to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish citizen child. Applications to remain on this basis are potentially open to abuse. For example, there have been a number of instances where applicants submitted false claims of parentage of an Irish citizen. Accordingly, my Department is keeping this issue under review.