Over the past number of years Sinnott Solicitors have seen a stark increase in cases where individuals who have been granted Irish Citizenship through naturalisation have received notifications of intention to revoke their citizenship by the Department of Justice and Equality. Whilst previously it was most uncommon for Certificates of Irish Naturalisation to be revoked it is certainly an issue which we have seen a lot more of in recent years.
Examples of situations where this may arise are where individuals obtained their Irish citizenship on foot of residency as the spouse of an EU national who later had their residency revoked, or situations where individuals had given false information in their applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection, leave to remain etc.
From the point of view of international protection or humanitarian leave to remain applications it is quite common where individuals have come to Ireland and applied for immigration permission under the alias of being from a different country. An example of this would be an Albanian citizen applying as a Kosovan national or a Pakistan national applying as a national of Afghanistan.
Revocation of Irish citizenship is dealt with under Section 19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.
Section 19(1) states that the grounds upon which citizenship may be revoked are as follows:
- That the issue of the certificate was procured by fraud, misrepresentation whether innocent or fraudulent, or concealment of material facts or circumstances, or
- That the person to whom it was granted have, by nay overt act, shown himself to have failed in his duty of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, or
- That (except in the case of a certificate of naturalisation which is issued to a person of Irish decent or association) the person to whom it is granted has been ordinarily resident outside Ireland (otherwise than in the public service) for a continuous period of seven ears and without reasonable excuse has not during that period registered annually in the prescribed manner his name and a declaration of his intention to retain Irish citizenship with an Irish diplomatic mission or consular office or with the Minister, or
- That the person to who it is granted is also, under the law o the country at war with the State, a citizen of that country, or
- That the person to whom it is granted has by any voluntary act other than marriage acquired another citizenship.
Under Section 19(2) the Minister for Justice before revoking a person’s citizenship is obliged to give intention of notice to revoke a Certificate of Naturalisation and must clearly set out the reasons for this intention.
Section 19(3) provides that if the person wishes they may request an inquiry before a Committee which is chaired by a person having judicial experience and that Committee then reports its findings to the Minister for Justice.
It is important to note that the Committee of inquiry do not have the power to revoke a person’s Certificate of Naturalisation. What happens is that the Committee issue a recommendation which is then given to the Minister for Justice, who subsequently has the power to decide to revoke a Certificate of Naturalisation or not based on the findings of the Committee.
Whilst this is a lengthy and without a doubt stressful process for individuals to go through, it is designed in such a manner to ensure that fair procedures and natural justice are applied at all times.
One significant flaw in the Irish system arises in circumstances where revocation of a person’s Certificate of Irish Naturalisation may occur when a person does not have the right of citizenship to any other country, thus rendering them stateless. An example of this would be where a person comes from a country where dual citizenship is not allowed such as China or the Ukraine and where they renounced their citizenship in order to become an Irish citizen. If this persons Irish citizenship is subsequently revoked this could actually render them stateless thereafter and have huge consequences for their future.
Another example is a person who was originally stateless due to being from an ethnic minority such as Tamil, Rohingya, Kurd. Revocation of their Irish citizenship would revert them to a position of statelessness, thus again being a citizen of no country.
The revocation of Irish citizenship might not just have life changing implications for the person whose citizenship has been revoked but may subsequently result in the revocation of Irish citizenship and Irish passports of family members such as children and spouses.
Whilst there have been very few cases involving the revocation of Irish citizenship litigated before the Irish Courts to date, we suspect that this is something which we will see a lot more of in the coming years, particularly having regard to the stark increase in residence card revocations over the past 12-24 months and the increase in grants of Irish citizenship by naturalisation in recent years.
If you have any concerns in relation to your Irish citizenship or have received a notice of intention to revoke your Certificate of Irish Naturalisation, then do not hesitate to contact our highly experienced team of immigration professionals on 014062862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.