The Department of Justice have announced that two citizenship ceremonies are to take place on the 10 and 11 of June 2024 at the INEC, Killarney.  Two additional ceremonies will be held on the 20 和21 of June 2024 at the Convention Centre, Dublin.

As always, the announcement of a citizenship ceremony is welcome news and the fact that four ceremonies will take place in June will allow Irish citizenship to be granted to a large number of applicants.

In recent weeks a huge amount of applications have been processed by the Citizenship Division and our offices alone have received hundreds of positive decisions on behalf of applicants in the past week.  It is of note however that many of the recently approved applications were submitted in 2023. Last year the Minister for Justice committed to clearing the backlog of applications submitted during 2022 before the end of 2023.  As expected, this did not happen.

On the 9 of April 2024 the Minister for Justice confirmed in a Dáil debate the number of applications outstanding for each year from 2017 to 2023.  At the time of the debate, approximately 17,435 applications submitted in 2023 remained outstanding whilst a further 8,027 submitted in 2022 awaited processing.  Based on developments in recent weeks it is clear that the number of 2023 applications to hand is now significantly less than 17,435 yet we have seen little progress in clearing the backlog of applications submitted in 2022. In circumstances where the Immigration Team at Sinnott Solicitors deal with applications for Irish citizenship on a daily basis, we are aware of the ad hoc manner in which applications seem to be processed and whilst the Department will submit that applications are processed in a chronological order, it is clear that this in fact is not the case.

Whilst we are delighted to see any application being processed, the current processing mechanisms whereby 2023 applications are processed before 2022 applications is very concerning and is indicative of a highly disorganised system.

Amongst the approval decisions received last week were numerous decisions on applications which were submitted via the new online process in October 2023.  Processing times for these applications was approximately six months. We hope to see this being the future processing timeline of applications given the online process has cut out a significant amount of administrative paperwork in the processing of applications.

That all said, it is grossly unfair to leave the remaining 2022 applications in limbo. Applicants who have been waiting for a decision for two years may be entitled to institute Judicial Review proceedings seeking an order of mandamus to compel the Minister for Justice to issue a decision. Sinnott Solicitors are instructed in many such applications.

Another issue which Sinnott Solicitors are aware of and are continuously engaging with the Department of Justice in relation to is the manner in which invitations are issued inviting applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, whereby again not all persons who have received approval letters and who paid the significant fee of €950 within ten days as requested are invited to the next citizenship ceremony.  We are aware of persons who would have received approval letters last Autumn who were not invited to ceremonies in December 2023 and February 2024 and again we submit that there appears to be no consistency in the manner in which invitations are issued.

A further significant issue which we are noting at present is the delay in issuing Certificates of Naturalisation after the ceremonies.  Prior to 2023, certificates of naturalisation were presented to persons at the citizenship ceremony.  Since March 2023 the Certificates of Naturalisation have been sent by registered post to applicants after the ceremony and in many instances it is taking a number of months for these certificates to issue after the ceremony.  This is causing serious problems for persons who become Irish citizens on the date of their ceremony, as they are unable to apply for their Irish passports until they receive the Naturalisation Certificate. It adds further potential complications to a persons ability to travel in circumstances where their IRP cards may have expired yet they are not in receipt of a Certificates of Naturalisation or an Irish passport to prove their Irish citizenship.

We are also aware of instances of letters being delivered to incorrect addresses, containing Certificates of Naturalisation, which is extremely serious given the fact that no signature is being requested by An Post at the time of delivery.

Sinnott Solicitors, Dublin and Cork have already raised this issue with the Department of Justice and will continue to do so.  We submit that an obvious solution to this issue is to simply revert to the old practice of presenting the Certificate of Naturalisation to applicants at the citizenship ceremony. It would also save significant expenditure given the cost of sending thousands of Certificates of Naturalisation by post.