Friday, 26 March 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Minister for her comprehensive answer. There is quite a lot to get through there. I am very keen to work with her and her Department in terms of offering positive suggestions as to how this could be reviewed and how we could look at a more bespoke arrangement for people. The Minister will know from her previous life in another Department that, given the consequences of Brexit, there is a heightened interest in Irish citizenship among people living in the North who are entitled to avail of it. It is important that we accept and acknowledge that and work to make the process as streamlined, good and effective as it can be.
I am encouraged by the statistics in respect of the backlog and by the intention to clear it. This has been to the fore when people have raised this issue with me. It is something on which we will keep a watching brief. I am sure those who are still waiting will also do so.
Is it possible to consider those low-paid workers who want to avail of citizenship in any review or consideration of this matter? While I appreciate the reasons the Minister has given as to why the fees are warranted, perhaps there is an opportunity to allow these fees to be paid in instalments over a period, rather than in one big sum of money, in order to lighten the burden on applicants.