Issue: Whether A Person Ceases To Be A Refugee After Being Granted Their Citizenship

M (M A) (Somalia) and ors v Minister for Justice and ors, February 2018


Three cases were combined to resolve a common issue as to whether a refugee continued to be a refugee after acquiring citizenship of the State. The applicants in those cases filed applications for family reunification which were refused by the respondent on the ground that an Irish citizen could not apply for family reunification under s. 18 of the Refugee Act 1996.


Mr. Justice Richard Humphreys held that a refugee in the State automatically ceased to be a refugee by operation of law on acquisition of citizenship of the State. The Court also held that there was no need for formal revocation of a declaration of refugee status. The Court opined that there was no unlawful discrimination contrary to the Constitution, the EU law, the ECHR or international law as the refugees who were granted citizenship were able to acquire new benefits and new legal status. The Court, however, held that if the refugees were given benefits under s. 18 of the 1996 Act, it could lead to discrimination against other Irish citizens who were not refugees.