Minister McEntee announces the establishment of the Single Person Committee of Inquiry
- Applies to refusals of Irish Citizenship where National Security concerns arise
30 September 2020
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, today announced that retired Judge John Hedigan has agreed to serve as the Member of the Single Person Committee of inquiry into the refusal of applications of Irish Citizenship via the Naturalisation process where National Security concerns arise.
The Committee is being established to review, upon request from the applicant, the material upon which the decision to refuse to grant a certificate of naturalisation was made, in circumstances where the basis of refusal is in whole or in part predicated on National Security concerns.
Announcing the establishment of the Committee, Minister McEntee said:
“I am pleased that retired Judge John Hedigan has agreed to serve as the Member of the Single Person Committee. The establishment of the Committee will provide greater openness and transparency in the process for applicants who are refused a certificate of naturalisation in the small number of cases where National Security concerns arise.
“It also ensures that the confidentiality of matters of National Security continue to be appropriately maintained for the security of the State.
“The granting of Irish citizenship is a privilege and an honour, which thousands of our newest citizens have benefitted from. It confers certain rights and entitlements not only within this State but also at European Union level. It is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process at all levels of the decision-making.”
Following his review of the material, the Member will advise the Minister on its disclosure to the applicant having regard to natural justice considerations and National Security interests including maintaining intelligence capabilities. The Member may advise the Minister: not to disclose; partial disclosure; or full disclosure of the material.
Notes to Editors
Mr. Justice John Hedigan was, until his retirement, a Judge of The Court of Appeal in Ireland. Prior to that, he was a Judge of The High Court from 2007 until 2016. From 1998 until 2007 he was a Judge of The European Court of Human Rights.
The establishment of the Single Person Committee is not an appeal process for Citizenship decisions. The establishment of the Committee introduces a process whereby applicants, whose application for a certificate of naturalisation was refused, in whole or in part, on National Security Concerns, can apply to the Single Person Committee for a decision on the disclosure of the information relied on in refusing their application.
A request for a review should be made in writing to:
Single Person Committee
Terms of reference -
Single Person Committee of inquiry into the applications of Irish Citizenship (Via Naturalisation) where National Security concerns arisen.
- Upon written request by an applicant, the Member will review the material upon which the decision to refuse to grant a naturalisation certificate (aka Citizenship) was made in circumstances where the basis of refusal is in whole or in part predicated on National Security concerns.
- The Member will advise the Minister on disclosure of material having regard to natural justice considerations and National Security interests including maintaining intelligence capabilities.
- Any such request must be communicated to the Member in writing, within three months of the decision to refuse the naturalisation certificate, when such a decision is dated subsequent to the 30th Sept 2020
- The Minister of Justice (the Minister) will consider the recommendations of the Member, but the final decision will rest with the Minister.
- The Member will review the National Security material as set out in the submission to the Minister and undertake any necessary inquiries with regard to the material provided and the concerns set out therein.
- The Member will undertake all such inquiries in a timely manner, and provide the applicant and the Minister with a status update where requested.
- Within three months of the conclusion of the Member’s work, advise the Minister as to whether, and to what extent, it may be possible to make disclosure to the applicant. The Member may advise in the following terms -
- Not to disclose
- Partial disclosure
- Full disclosure
- In the case of partial disclosure only, to provide an indicative wording as to the “gist” of the information that might be shared - for the Minster’s consideration.
- The Member reports to the Minister. The Member must submit a report of its activities to the Minister annually, or as required by the Minister.
Term of appointment
- Appointments are determined by the Minister and will not exceed three years.
- Appointees are eligible for reappointment by the Minister but may not serve more than six consecutive years.
- The member may resign upon written notification to the Minister.
Conflict of interest disclosure
- The Member must declare conflicts of interest prior to the discussion of individual files or at any time a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest arises.
- A conflict of interest refers to situations in which personal, occupational or financial considerations may affect or appear to affect the objectivity or fairness of decisions related to the Members activities.
- A conflict of interest may be real, potential or perceived in nature. The member must declare potential conflicts to the Minister and must absent themselves, or put the decision to the Minister on whether they should absent themselves.
Official Secrets Act
- The provisions of the Official Secrets Act covers all the activities undertaken by the single person committee member in the performance of the role.
- The member must sign a confidentiality agreement at the time of each appointment indicating his/her agreement to maintain the confidentiality, security and integrity of all materials during and after their term on the Committee.
- The Member upon signing a letter of Indemnification will be bound and covered by the said terms.
- The member may claim expenses reimbursement in accordance with the rates set.
Amendment to terms of reference
- The Minister may amend committee terms of reference from time to time.
Administrative Support / Points of contact
- Secretariat support to be provided by the Department of Justice and Equality.