I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.
I am aware that the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts, with the Court of Appeal reserving judgement on the appeal on 8 October, and the matter, therefore, remains sub-judice. We await an outcome from the Court of Appeal which will, of course, have a bearing on whether or not legislative change is required. Should it be necessary, I intend to introduce a Bill in the Oireachtas as soon as possible this term.
I know that colleagues of all parties are concerned with the difficulty that has arisen and I am hopeful that, if legislative change is necessary, the Oireachtas will give the Bill early and positive consideration.
My Department is doing everything possible to develop a legislative solution. At the end of July, I obtained Cabinet approval for a proposed Bill to address the matter and my department continues to work with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office to finalise the draft Bill.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the scheduling of citizenship ceremonies will be very much influenced by both the judgement of the Court of Appeal and the introduction of any necessary legislation. My officials are currently engaged in contingency planning to ensure those most affected by current circumstances are invited to a naturalisation ceremony at the earliest possible opportunity. As soon as the legal issues are resolved, my officials will make all necessary arrangements for the next Citizenship Ceremony. Invitations will issue four weeks in advance of the ceremony to ensure everyone has adequate notice.
In the interim, my Department is advising those who are planning to apply for citizenship to continue to collect all of the necessary proofs that support their application and to submit a comprehensive application form. Once a solution is in place, if any additional information is required, applicants will be contacted as part of the processing of their application.
The ruling of the High Court is not considered to have consequences for anyone who has already obtained citizenship under the Act.