152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position in regard to the determination of an application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41538/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy continues to be processed and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If further documentation is required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.
It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.
I am aware the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts, with the Court of Appeals reserving judgement earlier today (8 th Oct) , therefore it is sub-judice. The outcome of the appeal will have a bearing on whether or not legislation is required. Should it be necessary, I intend to introduce a Bill in the Oireachtas as soon as possible this term.
My Department is doing everything possible to put a solution in place on an urgent basis. At the end of July, I obtained Cabinet approval for a proposed Bill to address the matter and intensive work is taking place in the Department where officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office to finalise the draft Bill.
Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the Immigration Service is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.