707. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Justice the criteria used within the citizenship process to judge if an applicant is of good character. [9633/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation under the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union, as well as international level. It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the process is held in high regard both at home and internationally. Section 15 of the Act specifically refers to good character.
Irish citizenship, and by extension an Irish passport, is one of the most sought after in the world. Ireland, in common with many nations, has a requirement that applicants demonstrate that they are of good character. What exactly good character entails evolves over time, not least to take account of the enactment of new laws. However, an applicant needs to have demonstrated a history of compliance to the laws of the land. An applicant's good character is assessed in a number of ways, including but not limited to:
- An Garda Síochána vetting;
- Home Country Police clearance; and
- Adherence to the laws and regulations of the State. (This includes laws and regulations relating to revenue, social welfare and driving and transport).
The application form for naturalisation specifically requires the applicant to list any offences and also provides an opportunity to provide additional details regarding any such offences. The fact that a person has committed an offence does not automatically result in their refusal. The individual facts of each case are assessed. Applicants who are refused are provided with the reasons for their refusal.
The Immigration Service of my Department is currently preparing detailed guidelines on the good character criterion, which will be published on the website when finalised. Question No. 708 answered with Question No. 706.