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Encyclopedia > Irish nationality law

Irish nationality law is the law of the Republic of Ireland governing citizenship. In Irish law the terms "nationality" and "citizenship" have equivalent meanings. A person may be an Irish citizen through birth, descent, marriage to an Irish citizen, or through naturalisation. Irish nationality law is currently contained in the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2004, and in the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Ireland. Image File history File links COA_IRELAND.PNG Licensing File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Naturalization is the act whereby a person voluntarily and actively acquires a nationality which is not his or her nationality at birth. ... The Constitution of Ireland is the founding legal document of the state known today as the Republic of Ireland. ...

Contents


Irish Citizenship by Birth

Anyone born in the territory of what is now the Republic of Ireland on or before the 31 December 2004 was automatically an Irish citizen unless one of his or her parents was entitled to diplomatic immunity at the time of the child's birth.


The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 applied an entitlement to citizenship by birth to anyone born in Northern Ireland either before or after the coming into force of that Act. Anyone born in Northern Ireland on or before the 31 December 2004 is entitled to be an Irish citizen if they choose to be.


The virtually undiluted application of Jus soli (the right to citizenship of the country of birth) in the Republic, was brought to an end by the Irish Citizenship and Nationality Act 2004 which came into force on 1st January 2005. A person born on the island of Ireland on or after that date is no longer either automatically a citizen or entitled to be a citizen, unless at least one of that person's parents is either: Jus soli (Latin for right of the territory), or birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognised to any individual born in the territory of the related state. ...

  • an Irish citizen (or entitled to be an Irish citizen),
  • a British citizen,
  • a resident of the island of Ireland who is entitled to reside in either the Republic or in Northern Ireland without any time limit on that residence, and/or
  • a legal resident in Ireland for three out of the 4 years preceding the child's birth. (However time spent as a student or seeking asylum does not count for this purpose).

Irish Citizenship by Descent

Citizenship is automatic for the children of an Irish-born citizen regardless of where they are born. Children born outside Ireland to Irish citizens who were themselves born outside Ireland, may only become Irish citizens following registration at an Irish mission abroad. The citizenship of such children dates as of registration.


Children born outside Ireland to naturalised Irish citizens, or Irish citizens by marriage, can also acquire Irish citizenship in this way, provided the Irish parent acquired citizenship before they were born.


Irish citizenship acquired by registration of the birth at an Irish consulate is effective only from the date of registration. For those registered on or before 30 June 1986, Irish citizenship is deemed to be effective from the date of birth, or 17 July 1956 if the person was born before that date.


Irish Citizenship by Adoption

The rules depend on whether an adoption was completed in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere. All adoptions performed under Irish law automatically confer Irish citizenship on the adopted child (if they weren't Irish citizens already). The nationality of children adopted under the laws of a foreign state depends on whether the adoption itself will be recognised. The rules involved depend on the habitual, ordinary residence or domicile of the adoptive parents at the time of the adoption. In Conflict of Laws, domicile (termed domicil in the U.S.) is the basis of the choice of law rule operating in the characterisation framework to define a persons status, capacity and rights. ...


Irish Citizenship by Marriage

As of November 2005, citizenship must be acquired through the normal naturalisation process. The residence requirement is reduced from 5 years to 3 for the spouse of an Irish citizen. Previously, the law allowed for the spouse to acquire citizenship without naturalisation or residence in Ireland.


Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation

The naturalisation to a foreigner as a Irish citizen is a discretionary power held by the Irish Minister for Justice. Naturalisation is granted on a number of criteria including good character, residence in the state and intention to continue residing in the state. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is the senior minister at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (An Roinn Dlí agus Cirt, Comhionannais agus Athchóirithe Dlí) in the Irish Government. ...


In principle the residence requirement is three years if married to an Irish citizen, and five years otherwise. For those not married to Irish citizens, residence must be in the Republic, while for spouses of Irish citizens, residence in Northern Ireland can also count. However not all time spent in the Republic or in Northern Ireland will count for the purposes of naturalisation. Time spent seeking asylum will not be counted. Nor will time spend as an illegal immigrant. Time spend studying in the state by a national of a non-EEA states (i.e. a state other than European Union Member States, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) will not count.


It's also possible for the residency requirement to be waived by the Minister for Justice in respect to:

  • the spouses and children of naturalised children,
  • recognised refugees,
  • stateless children,
  • those resident abroad in the service of the Irish state,
  • people of "Irish descent or Irish associations".

Revocation of a Naturalisation Certificate

A certificate of Naturalisation may be revoked by the Minister when it was obtained by fraud or by:

  • residence outside the Republic of Ireland for a period exceeding seven years without registering annually his or her intention to retain Irish citizenship,
  • acquisition of another citizenship other than by marriage.

These provisions are not automatic and require Ministerial action. A notice of the revocation of a certificate of naturalisation must be published in Iris Oifigiuil (the Republic's Official Gazette) and in the period from January 2002 to April 2005 no such notices were published[1]. Iris Oifigiúil (Pronounced: R-ISH IFIC-GOUL Meaning: Official Gazette) replaced the Dublin Gazette on January 31, 1922 as the official newspaper of record of the Irish Free State. ...


Honorary Grant of Irish Citizenship

Section 12 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 allows the President, on advice of the Government, to: In constitutional law, Advice is formal, usually binding instruction given by a constitutional officer of state to another. ...

" ... grant Irish citizenship as a token of honour to a person, or the child or grandchild of a person who, in the opinion of the Government, has done signal honour or rendered distinguished service to the nation."

Although known as "honorary Irish citizenship" this is in fact legally a full form of citizenship, with entitlement to an Irish passport and the other rights of Irish citizenship on the same basis as a naturalised Irish citizen.


Among the people who have had honorary Irish citizenship conferred on them are:

John Jack Charlton OBE (born Ashington, Northumberland, May 8, 1935) was a footballer who spent his whole career in the successful Leeds United side of the 1960s and 1970s and won the World Cup with England. ... First international Italy 3 - 0 Ireland (FAI) (Turin, Italy; 21 March 1926) Largest win Republic of Ireland 8 - 0 Malta (Dublin, Republic of Ireland; 16 November 1983) Worst defeat Brazil 7 - 0 Republic of Ireland (Uberlândia, Brazil; 27 May 1982) World Cup Appearances 3 (First in 1990) Best result... Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875 - 1968) was born in New York City, he graduated from Columbia University as a mining engineer. ... The Chester Beatty Library was established in Dublin, Ireland in 1950, to house the remarkable collections of mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. ... Alfred Beit (1853-16 July 1906) was a South African diamond magnate. ... Irish Palladianism. ... Dr Tiede Herrema is a Dutch businessman. ... The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) is a paramilitary group which aimed, through the use of violence, to achieve three goals: (i) British withdrawal from Ireland, (ii) the political unification of Ireland through the merger of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland , and (iii) the creation of an all... Arthur Derek Hill was born in Hampshire in England in 1916. ... Tory Island (Oileán Toraigh in Irish; translation: tors are hills), is an island 12 km off the north-west coast of County Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland. ... Thomas Philip ONeill, Jr. ... Irish population density in the United States, 1872. ... The term Speaker is usually the title given to the presiding officer of a countrys lower house of parliament or congress (ie: the House of Commons or House of Representatives). ... Jean Kennedy Smith was born Jean Ann Kennedy on February 20, 1928 in Brookline, Massachusetts, the eighth of the nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. ...

Loss and Resumption of Irish Citizenship

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 Irish citizenship may only be lost by:

  • formal renunciation under Irish law (a renunciation made to other authorities, such as the US naturalisation oath is not valid); or
  • revocation of a naturalisation certificate

A former Irish citizen who was born on the island of Ireland may resume Irish citizenship by declaration. Other former Irish citizens must qualify for naturalisation should they wish to recover their citizenship.


Passports

An Irish Passport is designed in the standard EU model, with a machine readable identity page and either 32, 48 or 64 visa pages. The identity page on older Irish passports was on the back cover of the booklet. Newly issued passports have been redesigned with increased security features. The identity page is now a plastic card attached between the front cover and the first visa page. The cover bears the harp, the national symbol of Ireland, along with the words "European Union" and Ireland in both English and Irish. An entry visa valid in all Schengen treaty countries Visas for Laos, Thailand, and Sri Lanka A visa (short for the Latin carta visa, lit. ... The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Ireland. ...


All Irish citizens have a constitutional right to an Irish passport. Passports are generally valid for 10 years. Children and retired people may also apply for a cheaper 3 year passport.


Constitutional history

Irish citizenship originates from Article 3 of the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State[2]. Anyone domiciled in Ireland on the coming into force of the constitution (the 6th December 1922) was an Irish citizen if: The Constitution of the Irish Free State was the constitution of the independent Irish state established in December 1922. ... In Conflict of Laws, domicile (termed domicil in the U.S.) is the basis of the choice of law rule operating in the characterisation framework to define a persons status, capacity and rights. ...

  • She or he was born in Ireland,
  • At least one of his or her parents was born in Ireland, or
  • She or he had been ordinarily resident in Ireland for seven or more years before the 6th December 1922,

unless they chose not to accept Irish citizenship. The further acquisition and loss of Irish citizenship was to be regulated by law (something that was not done until 1935).


While the Constitution referred to those domiciled in the "jurisdiction of the Irish Free State" on 6th December 1922, this has been interpreted as meaning the entire island. This was based on the Anglo-Irish Treaty which, on it face, defined the Free State as covering the entire island and on the fact that while Ireland gained independence on the 6th December 1922, Northern Ireland did not opt-out of the Free State until the 7th December 1922. The upshot being that Northern Ireland was considered to have been "within the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State" on the 6th December 1922, if even just for one day.[3] Signature page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty The Anglo-Irish Treaty, officially called the Articles of association between Ireland and the British Empire, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom and representatives of the (extra-judicial) Irish Republic which concluded the Anglo-Irish War. ...


The 1937 Constitution of Ireland simply maintained the previous citizenship body, also providing that the further acquisition and loss of Irish citizenship was to be regulated by law. The Constitution of Ireland is the founding legal document of the state known today as the Republic of Ireland. ...


Jus soli was maintained as a matter of common and statute law, the only people being constitutionally entitled to citizenship of the Irish state post-1937 were those who were citizens of the Irish Free State. However in 1998 as part of the new constitutional settlement brought about by the Belfast Agreement, the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland provided (among other things) that: Jus soli (Latin for right of the territory), or birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognised to any individual born in the territory of the related state. ... The Belfast Agreement (the Good Friday Agreement and, more rarely, as the Stormont Agreement) was a political development in the Northern Ireland peace process. ... The Nineteenth Amendment of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, introduced changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution required by the 1998 Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement). ...

"It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland."

The introduction of this guarantee was largely a grandiose political statement but one which resulted in establishing jus soli as a constitutional right for the first time[4]. In contrast the only people entitled to British citizenship as a result of the Belfast Agreement are people born in Northern Ireland to Irish citizens, British citizens and permanent residents.


If immigration was on the political agenda in 1998, it did not take long to become so afterwards. Indeed soon after the agreement, the already rising strength of the Irish economy reversed to historic pattern of emigration to immigration. A turnaround which in turn resulted in a large number of foreign nationals claiming a right to remain in the state based on their Irish-born citizen children[5]. They did so on the basis on a 1992 Supreme Court ruling Fajujonu v. Minister for Justice where the court prohibited the deportation of the foreign parents of a Irish citizen. In January 2003 the Supreme Court distinguished the earlier decision and ruled that it was constitutional for the Government to deport the parents of children who were Irish citizens. A point which would have been thought to put the matter to rest but concerns about the propriety of the (albeit indirect) deportation of Irish citizens and what was perceived as the overly generous provisions of Irish nationality law remained. The Supreme Court (Irish: Chúirt Uachtarach) is the highest judicial authority in the Republic of Ireland. ...


In March 2004 the government introduced the Bill of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland to remedy what the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell described as an "abuse of citizenship" whereby citizenship was "conferred on persons with no tangible link to the nation or the State whether of parentage, upbringing or of long-term residence in the State"[6]. The amendment did not propose to change the wording of Articles 2 and 3 as introduced by the Nineteenth Amendment, but instead to insert a clause clawing back the power to determine the future acquisition and loss of Irish citizenship by statute, as previously exercised by the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) before the Nineteenth amendment. The government also cited concerns about the Chen case, then before the European Court of Justice. In that case a Chinese mother who had been living in Wales had gone to give birth in Northern Ireland on foot of legal advise. Mrs Chen then pursued a case against the British Home Secretary to prevent her deportation from the United Kingdom on the basis of her child's right as a citizen of the European Union (derived from the child's Irish citizenship) to reside in a member state of the Union. (Ultimately Mrs. Chen won her case but this was not clear until after the result of the referendum.) Both the proposed amendment and the timing of the referendum was contentious but the result for decisively in favour of the proposal; 79% of those voting, voting yes, on a turnout of 59%[7]. The Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, the founding legal document of the Republic of Ireland, provided that children born on the island of Ireland to parents who were both non-nationals would no longer have a constitutional right to Irish citizenship. ... Article 2 and Article 3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, were adopted with the constitution as a whole in 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took full effect in 1999. ... The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is formally known as the Court of Justice of the European Communities, i. ... For an explanation of often confusing terms such as Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom, England and Wales and England, see British Isles (terminology). ... The Maastricht Treaty introduced the concept of citizenship of the European Union. ...


The effect of the amendment was to prospectively restrict the constitutional right to citizenship by birth to those who are born on the island of Ireland to at least one parent who is (or is entitled to be) an Irish citizen. Those born in Ireland prior to the coming into force of the amendment continue to have a constitutional right to citizenship. Moreover jus soli primarily existed in legislation and it remained, after the referendum, for the Oireachtas (parliament) to pass ordinary legislation that would abolish it. This was, in fact, done by the Irish Citizenship and Nationality Act 2004 the effects of which are detailed above). It remains, however, a matter for the legislature and jus soli could be re-established by ordinary legislation without recourse to the People. The Oireachtas is the National Parliament of the Republic of Ireland. ...


See also

British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom concerning British citizenship and other categories of British nationality. ... This article concerns British nationality law in respect of citizens of the Republic of Ireland. ... The Common Travel Area or, informally the passport free zone, refers to the fact that citizens of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies (the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey) may travel between their countries without a passport. ... Jus sanguinis (Latin for right of blood) is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognised to any individual born to a parent who is a national or citizen of that state. ... Jus soli (Latin for right of the territory), or birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognised to any individual born in the territory of the related state. ... Article 2 and Article 3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, were adopted with the constitution as a whole in 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took full effect in 1999. ... The Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, the founding legal document of the Republic of Ireland, provided that children born on the island of Ireland to parents who were both non-nationals would no longer have a constitutional right to Irish citizenship. ... The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Bermuda, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa and states of the Caribbean and continental Europe. ...

References

  • J.M. Kelly, The Irish Constitution 4th edn. by Gerard Hogan and Gerard Whyte (2002) IBSN 1854758950

External links

  • Balance in Citizenship Laws 1998 debate in Northern Ireland Forum - a perspective from Northern Ireland.
  • Department of Justice, Immigration Asylum & Citizenship Division
  • Government Information Website: Citizenship by Marriage
  • Government Information Website: Information on Naturalisation
  • Irish Nationality & Citizenship Acts 1956-2004 (unofficial consolidated version) - pdf format
  • Wives, mothers and citizens - the treatment of women in the 1935 Nationality & Citizenship Act

Notes

  1. ^ See the Official journal's Website. The period reflects the length of the Gazette's availability online.
  2. ^ It should be noted that until the coming into force of the Twenty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the Irish Free State on 5th April 1935, Irish citizenship technically only applied within the Free State and not externally.
  3. ^ Re Logue (1933) ILTR 253. The decision resulted in changes being made the the British Nationality Act 1948 by section 5 the Ireland Act 1949, to ensure that people who were domiciled in Northern Ireland on 6th December 1922 but were born elsewhere in Ireland would not fail to become citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies merely because they were also Irish citizens.
  4. ^ This is clearly the view of Denham, McGuinness and Hardiman JJ, in Osayande. A view which is supported by the current writers of the Kelly.
  5. ^ The Irish Department of Justice granted leave to remain in the state to around 10,500 non-nationals between 1996 and February 2003 on the basis of their having an Irish born child – Department of Justice Press Release.
  6. ^ Quoted from the Daíl debate.
  7. ^ See: Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland#Results

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