Tuesday 20 August 2019

New law planned to deal with fallout from judge's ruling that leaving country for just a day could derail citizenship bid

Concerns: Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Concerns: Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Irish passport (Brian Lawless/PA)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Government plans to hurry through new legislation following a controversial High Court ruling which means applicants for citizenship must have “unbroken” residence here for a year before they apply.

The ruling earlier this month by Mr Justice Max Barrett was greeted with shock by the immigrant and legal communities as it suggests that even a single day’s absence would scupper an application.

It is seen as effectively acting as a barrier to prospective applicants travelling outside of Ireland for holidays or work.

Up until the ruling, the Department of Justice exercised discretion by allowed applicants to be absent for up to six weeks, even though the legislation technically states they must be continuously present in Ireland for a year before submitting an application.

Irish passport (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Justice Barrett found this policy went beyond what was legally permissible under the act.

In a statement, the department said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan had secured Cabinet approval for a bill which would seek to resolve the issues that arose in the High Court judgment.

“The minister’s intention is to work with the Office of the Attorney General and instruct the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to have a bill drafted on an urgent basis and before the Houses of the Oireachtas for consideration in mid-September as soon as the recess ends,” it said.

The department advised people who are planning to apply for citizenship to continue to collect all the necessary proofs that support their application and to submit a comprehensive application form.

The ruling is being appealed by UCD senior research fellow Roderick Jones. The Australian national brought the case after being refused Irish citizenship after being outside the country for 100 days in the year before his application.

READ MORE: Leaving the country for just one day could derail citizenship bid, judge's ruling suggests

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