18/07/2019

Urgent Clarification Needed On High Court Ruling On Citizenship

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, has been called to swiftly address the impact of a High Court ruling on citizenship.

Labour Justice spokesperson Seán Sherlock has urged Minister Flanagan to appeal the ruling and provide clarification on the impact on future applications, and certainty for the thousands of people who have been naturalised under the law in recent years.

Highlight a phrase in the ruling Deputy Sherlock said that 'continuous residence' is not used in any other Irish Act nor is it defined in law.

He continued: "The shock ruling in the High Court that someone applying for citizenship must not leave the country at all in the 12 months before their application will cause major difficulties for those seeking Irish citizenship. This arises from an interpretation of the phrase 'continuous residence' in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

"I would call on the Minister to ensure an appeal to the judgement is immediately fast tracked. The phrase 'continuous residence' is not used in any other Irish Act nor is it defined in law. The swiftest way now to resolve this in the short term is to appeal it to a higher court.

"The strict literal interpretation of the 1956 Citizenship Act arising from today's judgement will create enormous practical difficulties for anyone seeking to naturalise.

"The quickest way to address the implications of the judgement is a fast track appeal, but I would also ask the Minister to in parallel, prepare legislation to address the lack of definition in the law as soon as possible.

"The ruling creates a huge amount of uncertainty for those who may be considering applying for citizenship, and even for those who have been naturalised in recent years.

"The Labour Party also wants to see a broader overhaul of our citizenship laws to address recent cases of children born here, or who have resided here most of their lives, who have been threatened with deportation."

Speaking from Helsinki, where he is attending a meeting of EU Home Affairs Ministers, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, said: "I know that the ruling from the High Court has caused concern and may have been unsettling for people in the Citizenship process.

"I want to reassure people that my officials are carefully studying the ruling in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office. This issue is being dealt with as an urgent priority and I will take any necessary action to resolve it."

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