Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile calls for fairer process and costs for citizenship applicants
Sinn Féin’s leader in the Seanad, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, has urged the Minister for Justice to review current costs and processes involved in applying for citizenship.
Senator Ó Donnghaile said:
“This morning in the Seanad, I raised as a Commencement Matter the issue of the costs and processes involved in applying for citizenship through naturalisation.
“As I outlined to the Justice Minister in the Seanad, I appreciate and fully understand that citizenship is very precious, that we need to guard it and ensure that we are not lacklustre in our approach. However, it is important to state that we also need to understand that citizenship should not be the preserve of people who have the financial means or, indeed, the skills to complete what has often been described to me as being a very bureaucratic and complex process.
“To put it simply, we cannot price people out of citizenship. It is unfair and does not serve our communities.
“There are particular problems that present themselves for applicants from the Six Counties, such as the requirement for a PPS number or a southern tax certificate; I believe this warrants review and that a bespoke arrangement that takes these issues into consideration is required, without this it sustains a further layer of complexity and difficulty. It can potentially act as way to put people off, in some instances, applying for Irish citizenship, which we should not seek to do.
“There remains concerns about a significant backlog in processing applications which the Minister has said her department hopes to make progress on in the coming weeks and months – this is something we will keep a close eye on as it is a matter of deep concern for those awaiting the conferral of citizenship, in some instances for several years.
“Today, I have asked the Justice Minister to reduce the cost and the unfair financial burden it places on people who already are facing a very difficult time in the context of the current pandemic.
“I welcome that the Minister has said she will take onboard the issues I have raised, particularly in relation to the six counties. I am committed to working constructively with the Department on this to ensure that these issues are resolved, and a fairer approach is adopted, and it is something I will continue to work on in the Seanad.”