Minister McEntee to make it easier for children to secure Irish citizenship


23 March, 2021


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has announced that she will make it easier for children born here, whose parents are not Irish citizens and who are not entitled to citizenship at birth, to gain Irish citizenship themselves.


At present, a child born here who is not entitled to citizenship because their parents are not Irish citizens, or because they do not meet the three year residency requirement prior to the birth, needs to be resident in Ireland for four of the previous eight years before they can become citizens. This is in addition to the requirement to have one year’s continuous residence in the State prior to the date of their application.


Minister McEntee will reduce the amount of time such children have to be resident in the State to become Irish citizens from five years to three years. The number of years a minor must be resident in Ireland will now be two years out of the previous eight, in addition to the requirement to have one year’s continuous residence immediately prior to their citizenship application.

This proposal emerged from discussions between Minister McEntee and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik in respect of a Seanad Private Members Bill, and will allow children who are currently on a pathway to citizenship to attain this status at an earlier stage.

These changes will be contained in the upcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, and the General Scheme for this Bill is expected to be submitted to Government in the coming weeks.

Announcing this step, Minister McEntee said,


“The granting of Irish citizenship is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. It is my hope that reducing the amount of time children of non-Irish nationals born in Ireland have to wait before being eligible for citizenship will provide comfort and reassurance to many families across the country.


“This is in keeping with my Department’s commitment to delivering a fair immigration system for a digital age, as set out in Justice Plan 2021.


“I was glad to work and engage with Senator Ivana Bacik on this proposal, and I look forward to it being implemented as quickly as possible.


Minister McEntee continued,


“This amendment provides increased security for children where a parent subsequently falls out of permission as the child will be entitled to Irish citizenship and will therefore be an EU citizen with the right to remain in the State with a non-EEA national guardian or parent.


However, it will not broaden the categories of children who are entitled to citizenship and this amendment will only apply to the children of those parents who are legally resident in the State. Children born here to non-national parents who have three years prior residency will continue to be Irish citizens from birth.”

Minister McEntee has also committed to exploring whether it would possible for TUSLA to apply for citizenship on behalf of older children in their care in light of particular difficulties they may face. 


This continues to be explored with careful consideration of any implications for children in particular (for example, if a child has citizenship of another country that does not permit dual citizenship) and Minister McEntee is expected to meet with Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, in relation to this issue in the coming weeks.