The helpline for the citizenship section of my Department operates from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During this period, two telephones are in operation. A total of 8,572 calls, approximately 165 per week, were dealt with in 2003 and 842 calls were dealt with in January 2004.
The citizenship section, in common with other areas of the immigration and citizenship division of my Department, has seen a huge increase in recent years in the volume of business it deals with. In 1999, a total of 739 applications for naturalisation and 1,242 declarations of post-nuptial citizenship were received. In 2003, the corresponding figures were 3,580 and 2,369. In 1999, 416 certificates of naturalisation and 1,022 certificates of post-nuptial citizenship were issued. The corresponding figures in 2003 were 1,664 and 2,227 respectively. At the same time, the processing time for applications for naturalisation and declarations of post-nuptial citizenship has been reduced from 2.5 years and 12 months at the start of 2001 to 15-18 months and eight months respectively at present.
Given the volume of applications being received, it is intended to continue to focus resources on decision making and maintaining the processing times at their current levels. Since November 2002, comprehensive information leaflets on citizenship matters are available on my Department's website at www.justice.ie. Application forms for naturalisation and post-nuptial citizenship can also be downloaded from the website.