Criminal conviction for man who was granted Irish citizenship using false identity.

On the 22nd May 2020, an Albanian man was sentenced to three years in prison for making a false declaration on his Irish Citizenship Application which subsequently resulted in him being granted Irish Citizenship.  This case is the first conviction of its kind in Ireland and we suspect may become a precedent for further prosecutions of this type in the future.  

The man in question who is originally from Albania came to Ireland in 2001.  He applied to be granted refugee status under a false name and identity as a Kosovan national. In 2007 the man was granted permission to reside in the State on a humanitarian basis.  It should be noted that it is not uncommon for individuals to come to Ireland under false identities and it is important to point out that this often arises in circumstances where individuals are ill advised by traffickers and other individuals whom they trust for guidance when coming here. One has to understand the extremely difficult situations where many such persons are coming from and in desperation to be allowed to remain in a safe country such as Ireland present with false information.

The man in this case later submitted his application to be granted Irish Citizenship and this application was approved in 2014.  Again, the citizenship was granted on the basis of this person being a national of Kosovo, and not Albania the man’s true country of origin.

Following an investigation by the Garda National Immigration Bureau along with the Passport Office, the Immigration Service Delivery, the Citizenship Division of the Department of Justice and Equality and local Gardaì based in County West Meath, the man was prosecuted under Section 29A of the Irish Naturalisation and Citizenship Act 2004.  

As well as the conviction under this Act we understand that steps are currently ongoing in order for the man’s citizenship to be revoked.  

Whilst this conviction is a new precedent and the very first of its kind in the State, we suspect that we may see more such prosecutions in the future.  The case is a stark reminder to individuals who may have come to Ireland and applied for asylum or immigration permission using false identities and claiming to be from countries other than their own country of origin that it is important for them to be truthful with the Department of Justice and where possible notify the Department of Justice of their true circumstances.  We have assisted many individuals in recent years who have come to Ireland claiming asylum or other immigration permissions using false identities who have subsequently notified the Department of Justice of their correct identities and who have successfully retained their immigration permission to live in Ireland with no negative consequences. 

It is important to be aware that individuals who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection status using a false identity or nationality may risk their status being revoked so advices should always be taken from fully qualified specialists such as Sinnott Solicitors in these circumstances.

It is extremely important for any such individuals to take steps to rectify their identity matters where possible and not proceed to apply for a Certificate of Naturalisation until such information has been submitted and their new identity is accepted by the Department of Justice and Equality.  Any failure to do so could result in a prosecution under Section 29A of the Irish Naturalisation and Citizenship Act 2004 as well as the subsequent revocation of their Irish Citizenship and possibly permission to reside in Ireland.

There can also be further implications under legislation such as the Civil Registration Acts where persons register false names and identities on marriage and birth certificates, so professional advices from fully qualified legal professionals should always be taken where such issues arise. 

Any individuals who have come to Ireland using false identities who are now looking to take steps to rectify the matter should contact us today for assistance and we will guide and assist them in their application to the Department of Justice to change their identity and where relevant other government divisions.  Given our experience of dealing with clients in such situations, we understand the stress and anxiety which it can cause, and we are here to help and reassure as well as advise on the appropriate course of action in all such circumstances.  

Should you require assistance with your application to the Department of Justice and Equality to change your identity do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Team today on or 01 406 2862 and we would be most happy to assist you with your case.