325. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice if a citizenship application of a person (details supplied) will be expedited due the significant delays in processing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27184/22]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The application for naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, continues to be processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, and will be submitted to me for decision in due course.
In accordance with the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, an applicant must have had a period of one year’s continuous reckonable residence in the State immediately before the date of the application.
As the person concerned has already submitted their application, the six weeks absence rule no longer applies. They should, however, contact my Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org, if they intend to remain outside of the State for an extended period of time.
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. However, 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.
In addition, the combined impact of the 2019 High Court judgment in the Jones case and the necessary health restrictions arising from the pandemic, has unfortunately resulted in the processing time for standard applications increasing.
However, my Department is taking a number of steps to speed up the processing of applications and a number of digitisation measures have also been introduced to increase efficiency in the process, including eTax clearance, eVetting and online payments. The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up more staff to focus on processing applications in a timely and efficient manner, to improve service to our customers and reduce waiting times.
In 2021, my Department issued 11,512 citizenship decisions, which is the highest number of decisions made since 2015, and reflects positively the significant changes undertaken to date.
It is open to the applicant to contact the Citizenship Division of my Department at: email@example.com at any time for an update on their application.