Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in July 2009. The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. In that context, I can inform the Deputy that I recently announced a series of measures within my Department to provide for speedier processing of citizenship applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that came into force on Friday, 24th June 2011, and are currently available online with an associated online residence checker, streamlined and accelerated procedures for certain types of application and plans to recruit interns under the new Internship Programme. These measures are targeted at clearing the backlog of applications awaiting a decision in excess of six months by spring of next year and from that time on the aim is, save in exceptional circumstances, that persons applying for citizenship will be given a decision on their application within six months.
The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.