News & Media

Minister must confirm he will appeal citizenship judgement

18 July 2019

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

Labour Justice spokesperson Seán Sherlock has called on the Minister for Justice to confirm without delay that he will appeal the High Court ruling on citizenship, and provide clarification on the impact it will have on future applications, and what impact if any it will have 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 has caused significant uncertainty and concern for those applying for Irish citizenship. This arises from an interpretation of the phrase ‘continuous residence’ in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

“The Minister has said he is consulting with the Attorney General however he should clarify if he will urgently appeal the ruling and ensure it is immediately fast tracked to the Supreme Court. 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 the 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.”

ENDS