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Department of Justice to reduce citizenship waiting period for children born to non-Irish parents

DUBLIN: The Department of Justice plans to shorten the citizenship waiting period for children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents.

The move to reduce the residency requirements for naturalisation of Irish-born children from five years to three years will be made under a new legal reform Bill.

The department said that the Bill will also include amendments to the “continuous residence” requirement for all those applying for naturalisation. The new reform Bill is currently scheduled for priority drafting.

Minister of State for Law Reform James Browne said the fact that children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents were not automatically entitled to citizenship was a matter of concern to some. This is because since the 2004 citizenship referendum, children born in the country have been granted automatic citizenship only if one of their parents is an Irish citizen or entitled to it.

Minister Browne said that the Department of Justice fully respects the change made by the Irish people in the 2004 referendum, but believes it is appropriate to reduce the citizenship waiting period for these children.

“We are reducing the residency requirement from five years to three years. The Bill will also set out clear procedures that will apply where a citizenship application is made on behalf of a child,” Mr. Browne added.

He also said that the department is considering changes to the continuous residence requirement in response to court judgments. The amendment is to “allow for total absences of up to 70 days from the State in the year preceding the citizenship application being made. Up to a further 30 days may also be allowed where necessitated by exceptional circumstances,” the minister said.

The reform Bill, which would also raise the number of judges on the High Court by five, is expected to be published during the summer session. The Department of Justice will engage with the Office of the Attorney General to progress the Bill and ensure its publication.  

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