Committee of Inquiry to review citizenship application refusals

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The Minister for Justice and Equality Miss Helen McEntee recently announced that a new Committee of Inquiry has been set up to review Irish citizenship application refusals where a person has been refused due to national security concerns.  

Mr Justice John Hedigan, a retired and most respected Judge who sat on the High Court, Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights will serve as the single member of this committee.  

Since the end of September this year, where an Applicant is refused am application for Irish citizenship, either in whole or in part due to national security concerns, they may now seek disclosure of the information which the Minister for Justice relied upon in refusing the application.

An application for disclosure of the information must be submitted in writing to the member of the single person committee within three months of the decision to refuse their citizenship application.  

The committee member will then consider the request and advise the Minister for Justice and Equality whether to:

  1. Disclose none of the information to the applicant.
  2. Provide partial disclosure of the information to the applicant.
  3. Provide full disclosure of the information to the applicant.

Where partial disclosure is recommended, the member must provide the Minister an indicative wording as to the “gist” of the information that might be shared.

The Minister will then consider the advises of the member but will retain the power to issue the final decision on disclosure.

Whilst the introduction of a committee of enquiry has been broadly welcomed, some reservations have been expressed as to whether it would have been more appropriate to establish a committee with a number of members as opposed to a single member committee. 

The fact that the member is appointed by the Minister for Justice and reports to the Minister has also raised questions with respect to independence.

Notwithstanding this, we fully support the establishment of the committee and the fact that applicants who are refused their citizenship applications based on national security concerns will now receive due process in having the opportunity to seek disclosure of the information which has been relied upon by the Minister for Justice in refusing their application, is a significant development.

It is important to note that only applicants who have been refused Irish citizenship due to national security concerns can avail of this process.

Applicants who have been refused for other reasons, such as previous criminal convictions, absences from the State or other reasons should seek legal advises to establish whether there are grounds to challenge any such refusal by way of judicial review, or any alternative options available to them.

Sinnott Immigration Solicitors have extensive experience in all Irish citizenship and immigration law matters. If you have any queries contact their Immigration Department today on 00353 1 406 2862 or info@sinnott.ie.