Wednesday 21 February 2018

Citizenship rules to face review after court finding

Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter is reviewing Ireland's citizenship regime after a Syrian lawyer won a Supreme Court appeal over a decision to refuse him Irish citizenship.

Ghandi Nawaf Mallak, who secured asylum 10 years ago, was given no reason for the refusal, the court found.

The decision has implications for others in similar positions where administrative unfairness is alleged.

Last night Mr Shatter, who has absolute discretion whether to grant a certificate of naturalisation, said he was examining the ruling.

Some 22,000 decisions regarding applications for citizenship have been made so far this year, but the Department of Justice has not revealed how many people have been refused.

The ruling has been welcomed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI).

Mr Mallak and his wife came to Ireland in 2002 and both secured asylum later that year. Both later applied for a certificate of naturalisation.

Mr Mallak's first application was refused and he applied again in December 2005.

Almost three years later, in November 2008, the Justice Minister refused the application without saying why. Mr Mallak's wife secured citizenship.

Mr Mallak's lawyers later sought documents under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, including the minister's reasons but were ultimately told the minister was not obliged to give a statement of reasons.

Further requests to the Department of Justice led to it disclosing to Mr Mallak a schedule of records entitled "garda report" and a "garda request form", of which he was previously unaware.

He later appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court's rejection of his challenge to the minister's refusal to give reasons.

Irish Independent

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