Written Answers. - Residency Permits.

Pat Rabbitte


35 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to his discussions with the Attorney General regarding the policy, legal and constitutional effects of the decision of the Supreme Court of 23 January 2003 regarding the rights of non-EU nationals whose children have been born here; if his attention has been drawn to the comments of the chairperson of the Immigrant Council of Ireland that the judgment has left 10,000 non-national and Irish born children in a legal limbo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17114/03]

Trevor Sargent


64 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason it is taking such an extended length of time for him to make decisions as to the way in which pending applications will be processed given that individuals have been waiting since autumn 2001 for decisions on residency applications on the basis of parentage of an Irish child and are denied the right to work. [17239/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 64 together.

I have discussed the matter with the Attorney General. We are both in agreement that, far from leaving non-national parents and their Irish born children in a legal limbo, the judgment of the Supreme Court of 23 January 2003 has in fact clarified the constitutional and legal position greatly. It is clear from the judgment that the parents of an Irish born child, contrary to what is supposed to have been the prior existing position, do not derive a right to reside in the State from the fact that they are such parents. It is also clear that the Government may determine to deport an immigrant family, notwithstanding the effect of the removal of the Irish born child, without violating the child's rights. In the instant case the Supreme Court upheld my decision to deport parents of Irish born children. It is also clear that the general requirements of the common good are a significant factor in the determination of these cases.

Many non-national parents who have had a child or children born in this jurisdiction appear to have assumed that they could not be removed from the State because they had Irish born children. That assumption was mistaken and was never based on information supplied by me or my officials. The question to be decided therefore is the manner in which I, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, seek to carry out my function as the Minister of Government charged with making decisions of this kind. My decision will be informed by Government policy on the matter, the constitutional rights of the children in question and the exigencies of the common good. I want to ensure that whatever mechanism is put in place to deal with these matters has the capacity to withstand any objective analysis in terms of effectiveness, fairness and transparency. My intention is that it will be sustainable in the longer term and will be a considered response rather than a hasty response taken in the interests of political expediency.