Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ceisteanna (319, 320)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

319. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will reduce the application fee or the fee for a certificate of naturalisation to enable greater access to citizenship to those unable to afford these fees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7779/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

320. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views that the fees related to naturalisation are preventing migrants in the State from becoming citizens; her further views that this has a negative impact on the ability of migrant communities to engage in political events, such as referenda, presidential elections and Dáil Éireann elections; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7780/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 319 and 320 together.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 set out the prescribed fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation. An application fee of €175 is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a fee is payable by applicants on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil. The certification fees were last changed in 2008.

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. Every application must be assessed to establish if the statutory requirements are met. It is notable that the volume of applications for -a certificate of naturalisation increased by over 50% in 2011, and increased further in 2012. The Deputy will be aware that following the grant of citizenship it is no longer necessary for the person concerned to register their presence in the State with the Garda National Immigration Bureau which requires the payment of a fee of €300 per registration. I do not accept that the fees related to naturalisation are a barrier to migrants in the State becoming Irish citizens.

As the Deputy will be aware formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship. Democratic participation by citizens is a cornerstone of our representative democracy and a leaflet informing new citizens of their right to register and vote in all elections in the State and how to register is included in the ceremony packs issued to candidates for citizenship.

All of the fees payable under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 are kept under ongoing review by my Department.