News & Media

Urgent appeal needed on Citizenship ruling

17 July 2019

Statement by Sean Sherlock TD
Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs

Labour Justice spokesperson Seán Sherlock has called on the Minister to swiftly address the impact of a High Court ruling today on citizenship by appealing it, and providing clarification on the impact on future applications, and certainty for the thousands of people who have been naturalised under the law in recent years.

The phrase ‘continuous residence’ is not used in any other Irish Act nor is it defined in law.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“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.”