339. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to specific circumstances in a proposed naturalisation application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9891/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application for naturalisation has been received.
The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The Act sets out the statutory conditions which must be met for naturalisation. These include that, regardless how long an applicant may have resided in the State, the applicant must have a period of 1 year's continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the 8 years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence amounting to 4 years (in the case of an application based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the Act reduces this further period to 2 years during the preceding 4 years).
The guidance notes attached to the application form inform applicants that arrangements for assessment of residence are on the basis that the person is physically resident in the State for the required period of time and that where there are significant absences from the State the application may be refused.
Where an applicant is found to be non-resident for substantial periods of time such periods will not be reckonable for the purposes of satisfying the statutory residency conditions for naturalisation. While the Act clearly stipulates the statutory minimum periods of residence required in the State, and that the final year be continuous residence, it has long been recognised that many people may travel abroad for a holiday, or may have some unexpected or unavoidable reason to travel abroad. In this regard it is considered that a reasonable and generous period of up to 6 weeks be allowed for absences from the State for normal holidays and other short term and temporary nature absences, such as for business meetings or a family wedding or bereavement or medical emergency while abroad, and that such short term nature absence from the State would not impact on the statutory residence requirement. The Minister may allow some further discretion where there are wholly exceptional or unavoidable circumstances. Every application is considered on its own merits having regard to the statutory conditions set out in the Act.
Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS 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 INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.