Bill to give children born in Ireland citizenship sooner moves forward

Bill to give children born in Ireland citizenship sooner moves forward

Children born in Ireland to parents who are not Irish citizens will be able to gain Irish citizenship sooner under legislative plans announced today.

James Browne, minister of state with responsibility for immigration, confirmed that changes to the naturalisation process would be included in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021.

The amount of time children have to be resident in the State to become Irish citizens will be reduced from five years to three years and the continuous residence requirement will be relaxed.

The government previously announced in March that it would make changes to the process following discussions between then Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik.

Ms Bacik, a qualified barrister and legal academic, sought to make similar changes through her Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Naturalisation of Minors Born in Ireland) Bill, which she introduced to the Seanad in 2018.

Mr Browne said: “I know it has been a cause for concern for some that children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents do not have an automatic entitlement to citizenship.

“We fully respect the change made by the Irish people in the 2004 referendum, however we believe that providing a shorter pathway to citizenship is the right thing to do for these children.”

He added: “We are reducing the residency requirement from five years to three years. The bill will also set out clear procedures that will apply where a citizenship application is made on behalf of a child.

“Following court judgments on the continuous residence requirement, we are amending the continuous residence requirement to allow for total absences of up to 70 days from the State in the year preceding the citizenship application being made. Up to a further 30 days may also be allowed where necessitated by exceptional circumstances.”

The Department of Justice has said it will “now work closely with the Office of the Attorney General to progress the bill to ensure publication in the summer session”.

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