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Mary Lou McDonald welcomes EU Directive on residency rights

9 May, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed Ireland‚s adoption of the EU Free Movement Directive but has called for its provisions to be extended to the partners of Irish citizens also.

The MEP and General Election candidate for Dublin Central said, "Sinn Féin has long called for residency rights to be extended to unmarried and same-sex partners on the same basis as spouses. The adoption of this directive is a welcome step in the right direction.

"However, an anomaly exists in the law whereby it only applies to the partners of non-Irish EU citizens. The unmarried partners of Irish citizens still have no right to reside in the State.

"This same anomaly exists in our laws concerning residency rights for spouses. Under European law, such applications must be processed within six months - but only if the EU spouse is a non-Irish citizen. The spouses of Irish citizens are not covered by this law and their residency applications are not prioritised by this Government. Currently, such applications are taking fourteen months. This is causing great hardship for these couples, as the immigrant spouse is subject to our restrictive work permit laws.

"There is absolutely no sense to having one rule for the partners of non-Irish EU citizens and a different, more stringent rule for the partners of Irish citizens. It simply defies logic.

"I am calling on the Minister for Justice to take immediate steps to resolve this anomaly and give the partners of Irish citizens equal rights under the law. I further reiterate Sinn Féin's view that unmarried and same sex partners should be treated no differently to spouses." ENDS

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