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Ó Caoláin welcomes commitment on naturalisation rights for civil partners

12 April, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has today welcomed the commitment by the Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter to bring the civil partners of Irish citizens within the naturalisation scheme available to Irish citizens’ spouses.

This information was revealed in a reply by Minister Shatter to a Parliamentary Question tabled by the Cavan-Monaghan TD.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“At present, the spouses of Irish citizens seeking naturalisation can avail of more favourable eligibility conditions than apply to other citizenship applicants. Irish citizen spouses must be resident in the 32 Counties for a minimum of three years, whereas applicants not married to Irish citizens must be resident in the 26 Counties for a minimum of five. Regrettably, the Civil Partnership Act 2010 did not extend these relaxed conditions to Irish citizens’ civil partners.

“Minister Shatter has now confirmed to me that he intends to amend the law to rectify this omission from the Civil Partnership Act and bring civil partners within the naturalisation scheme that applies to spouses. He has further indicated that until such time as the legislation can be amended, he will use his discretion in ‘appropriate cases’ to grant naturalisation to the civil partners of Irish citizens on the same basis as spouses.

“I welcome this small, but much needed, reform of the naturalisation laws and in particular this further move toward equality for same-sex couples in Ireland.” ENDS

Note to editors: Parliamentary Question follows.


QUESTION NO: 286

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 12th April, 2011.


* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will amend Section 15A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) to make its provisions applicable to civil partners of Irish citizens; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin


REPLY.
It is my intention that in immigration related matters, civil partnerships registered in Ireland or recognised by Irish law will, so far as is possible, be treated the same as marriages. It would be consistent with this approach to apply the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) to the civil partners of Irish citizens. It would be my intention to bring forward an amendment to this effect at a future date.

In the case of a non-Irish national applicant who is the spouse of an Irish citizen those conditions are that the applicant must -
• be of full age
• be of good character
• be married to the Irish citizen for at least 3 years
• be in a marriage recognised under the laws of the State as subsisting
• be living together as husband and wife with the Irish spouse
• have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the island of Ireland immediately before the date of the application and, during the four years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the island of Ireland amounting to two years
• intend in good faith to continue to reside in the island of Ireland after naturalisation
• have made, either before a Judge of the District Court in open court or in such a manner as the Minister, for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) currently provides that the Minister for Justice and Equality may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled.

Until I secure the relevant amendment to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) I intend, in appropriate cases, where there is a registered civil partnership recognised under the relevant legislation here, to use my discretion to grant certificates of naturalisation to persons involved in such relationships in situations in which naturalisation would be granted to an applicant who is a non Irish national spouse of an Irish spouse.

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