itizenship

Citizenship grants the most extensive rights to be in the State and enjoy the benefits of its laws and protection. Nationals and naturalised residents are citizens. A wide range of persons potentially qualifies for Irish citizenship. In some cases, qualification is automatic, while in others, the Minister for Justice has an element of discretion in the matter

Article 2 of the Constitution declares that it is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas to be part of the Irish nation. It is the entitlement of all persons, qualified in accordance with the law, to be citizens of Ireland. The Constitution declares that the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad, who share its cultural identity and heritage.

A person born in the island of Ireland including islands and seas, who does not have at the time of that birth, at least one parent who is an Irish citizen or who is entitled to be an Irish citizen, is not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality unless provided for by law. This provision which was introduced into the Constitution by referendum in 2004, does not apply to persons born before its introduction

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956-2004 determines the right to Irish citizenship. In the case of a person born before 2005, every person born in Ireland became an Irish citizen from birth. Every person became an Irish citizen if his father or mother was an Irish citizen at the time of that person’s birth. The entitlement did not apply to the child of an alien who, at the time of the child’s birth, is entitled to diplomatic immunity in the State.

The automatic conferral of citizenship did not apply to a person, not otherwise an Irish citizen, born in Northern Ireland on or after the establishment of the Irish Free State unless he (or if a minor, his parents or guardian) declared himself to be an Irish citizen in the prescribed form declared himself to be an Irish citizen.

After 1st January 2005, a person born in the island of Ireland after 1 January 2005 to parents, at least one of whom was an Irish or British citizen or entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without any restrictions on his or her residence, has an entitlement of Irish citizenship. A person born in the island of Ireland after 1 January 2005 is entitled to Irish citizenship only if, during the four year period immediately preceding the person’s birth, one of the parents has been resident in the island of Ireland for a period of not less than three years and neither parent was entitled to diplomatic immunity in the State.

A person shall be a citizen from the date of his birth if he or she does any act that only an Irish citizen is entitled to do, or in the case of a person who was not of full age or is suffering from mental incapacity, and the act is done on of his behalf, which only an Irish citizen is entitled to do so.  This, in particular, covers the taking it out of an Irish passport, by or on behalf of a person born in Northern Ireland.

A person born in the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen if he or she is not entitled to citizenship of any other country.

Residence in the Island of Ireland

Where a parent of a person to whom the above provisions apply dies before the person’s birth, the period commencing on the date of the parent’s death and expiring on the date of the person’s birth shall be reckonable for the purposes of calculating a period of residence in the island of Ireland under that provision if the parent was, immediately before his or her death, residing in the island of Ireland, and the period in respect of which he or she was, immediately before his or her death, resident in the island of Ireland is reckonable in that context.

Where an EU / EEA national or Swiss national makes a declaration that he has resided in Ireland for the period set out in the declaration, it is presumed that he lived in Ireland for that period, until the contrary is shown

Exclusions of Reckonable Periods

A period of residence in the State shall not be reckonable for the purposes of calculating a period of residence above, if

  • it contravenes immigration legislation,
  • it is in accordance with permission given for the purpose of enabling him or her to engage in the course of education or study in the State, or
  • it consists of a period during which a person (other than an EU/ EEA or Swiss national is entitled to remain in the State in accordance only with the refugee legislation.

A period of residence in Northern Ireland shall not be reckonable for the purposes of calculating a period of residence above, if the residence of the person concerned in Northern Ireland during that period is not lawful under the law of Northern Ireland (the person not being an EU/ EEA or Swiss national) or if the entitlement of the person concerned to reside in Northern Ireland is subject to analogous restrictions to the those mentioned above in respect of the State.

Citizenship by descent

A person is an Irish citizen from birth if, at the time of his birth, either parent was an Irish citizen or would, if alive has been an Irish citizen.  This provision applies even if the parent concerned had not activated Irish citizenship, at the time of birth.

Irish citizenship is not conferred on a person born outside the island of Ireland, if the parent from whom he or she derives citizenship, was also born outside Ireland unless has birth is registered under Irish legislation or the parent from whom he derives citizenship, was at the time of that person’s birth, abroad in the public service.  The citizenship of a person registered after 1st July 1986 is deemed effective from that date.

Citizenship by Marriage

Acquisition of Irish citizenship by a person shall not by itself confer citizenship on his or her spouse.A person who is a non-national at the date of marriage to a person who is, or later becomes an Irish citizen, does not become a citizen by marriage alone.  However, he or she may do so by lodging not earlier than three years from the date of the marriage (or the date on which his or her spouse became an Irish citizen, whichever is later), a declaration in the prescribed manner with the Department of Foreign Affairs or with an Irish diplomatic mission accepting Irish citizenship as post-nuptial citizenship.

The marriage must be subsisting at the date of the declaration, and the couple must be living together as husband and wife.  The Irish citizen must submit an affidavit to this effect when the declaration is lodged.  Citizenship commences from the date of lodgement.

A person who was married to an Irish citizen prior to 30th November 2002 is deemed to lodge the declaration on that date, being the date on which the legislation came into force. Post-nuptial citizenship does not apply to marriage to a person who becomes a citizen by naturalisation, as a grant or token of honour or under this spousal provision itself.),

Naturalisation

Irish citizenship can be conferred on a non-national by a certificate of naturalisation, granted by the Minister for Justice.  A person to whom a certificate of naturalisation issues, is an Irish citizen from the date of issue. The Minister may grant citizenship in his absolute discretion if he is satisfied that

  • the applicant is of full age or is a minor born outside the State.
  • is of good character.
  • has for a period of one continuous year resided in the State immediately prior to the application
  • during the eight preceding years, has resided at least four years in the State.
  • intends in good faith to continue to reside in State after naturalisation; and
  • has made before the District Court or in such other manner as may be allowed, a declaration a fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the state. Citizenship ceremonies are used in place of a court declaration.

The Minister may, in his discretion, grant a certificate of naturalisation to a non-national spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen on the above conditions, provided that

  • the spouse is married to the Irish citizen for at least for three years
  • the marriage is subsisting
  • the persons are proved to be living together as husband and wife; and
  • the applicant has at least one year’s residence in the island of Ireland and at least two year’s residence in the four preceding years.
  • intends in good faith to continue to reside in State after naturalisation; and
  • has made before the District Court or in such other manner as may be allowed, a declaration a fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the state. Citizenship ceremonies are used in place of a court declaration.

A declaration of fealty to the nation and loyalty to the state is required.

The Minister may, in his absolute discretion, waive some or all of the above conditions, if satisfied that the applicant would suffer serious consequences in terms of his bodily integrity or liberty, if not granted Irish citizenship. A period of residence outside Ireland during which the applicant was married to an Irish citizen in the public service, is deemed residence in Ireland for the above purpose.

Discretion

The Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation, notwithstanding that some or all of the conditions for naturalisation are not complied with.

  • where the applicant is of Irish descent or association.
  • where the applicant is a parent or guardian on behalf of a minor of Irish descent or association;
  • where the applicant is a naturalised Irish citizen, acting on behalf of a minor child of the applicant;
  • where the applicant has been resident abroad in the public service;
  • where the applicant is a refugee within the meaning of the UN Convention on the status of refugees.

A person is of Irish association, if he is related by blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is an Irish citizen or who is entitled to be an Irish citizen, or if he or she was related by blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is deceased, and who at his death was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen.

Periods of residence in the State are not counted for the purpose of a certificate of naturalisation if

  • the person concerned is in breach of immigration legislation;
  • has permission only for the purpose of allowing a person to engage in the course of education or study,
  • certain periods of asylum-seeking.

 

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