The Irish Court of Appeals overturned a controversial High Court finding that applicants for Irish citizenship must have “unbroken” residence in Ireland in the year before they apply. Today’s ruling means that those applying for Irish citizenship will no longer be faced with the absurd prospect of not being able to leave Ireland for a year before they apply for citizenship and that is to be welcomed but it really should never have come to this.
In their finding, the three judge Court of Appeal stated that the High Court erred in their application of the law for those looking to become Irish citizens. They went on to describe the initial High Court ruling as being “unworkable”, “overly literal”, “unduly rigid” and gives rise to an “absurdity”.
The issue of eligibility for Irish citizenship came to a head in May when the High Court ruled that Mr. Roderick Jones, an Australian man who works in the university sector in Ireland, was rightly refused citizenship by the Minister for Justice in 2018 due to being out of the country for 100 days – 97 on holiday and three for work reasons – in the year before he applied.
Mr Justice Max Barrett from the High Court ruled last May the Minister for Justice’s discretionary practice of allowing applicants six weeks out of the country, for holiday or other reasons, and more time in exceptional circumstances, is not permitted by section 15.1.c of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2015. He also ruled that the Minister has no discretion in relation to the “continuous residence” requirement in that section.
Both Mr. Jones’s lawyers and those of Ireland’s Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan urged the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court finding. Both parties argued that the relevant law stating that Irish citizenship applicants must have an “unbroken” residence in the country for a year prior to their application was erroneous in how it interpreted “continuous residence” in Ireland. Thankfully that ruling was made today and moving forward it, it should be make the Irish citizenship application more straightforward.
At Moving2Ireland, we are very pleased with today’s ruling from the Court of Appeals as it brings a common sense approach to Irish citizenship applications that will ensure those who are looking to make Ireland their permanent home can do so without fear of unnecessarily arduous roadblocks preventing them from doing so.
We will continue to monitor this ruling closely in the coming days and weeks to make sure that those currently applying for Irish citizenship or thinking of doing so are as informed as possible.