In this brief blogpost Stephen Kirwan an associate solicitor in the Immigration and International Law Team explores the recent proposal by the Minister for Justice to introduce reforms through the Court and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021.

On 8th July 2021 the Minister for Justice Ms Heather Humphreys has announced that she will introduce a wide-ranging bill aimed at reforming a number of aspects of the courts and civil law. The General Scheme of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 has now been approved for publication[1] and will “provide for legislative changes across a number of important policy areas that will have a real impact on peoples’ lives,”.[2] There are several purported changes that will inevitably have a profound impact on a number categories of applicants but in particular on minor applicants seeking to apply for naturalisation and those who had unsuccessful international protection applications.

 

Amendments to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (the 1956 Act)

Part 7 of the new bill envisages a number of important practical amendments to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Head 44 introduces measures to reduce ‘reckonable residence’ required for minors seeking to be naturalised from three to five years by amending Section 15 the 1956 Act through the substitution of appropriate text into subsection 15(1)(c) of the 1956 Act.  As has been pointed out in a previous blogpost[3] despite the welcome change, this has brought for some families it is submitted that the changes envisaged simply do not go far enough and a massive opportunity has been respectfully missed out to expand rules around naturalisation.

It is also proposed to make certain amendments to Section 15(3)(a) of the 1956 Act under Head 44.  The current bill seeks to clarify some of the ambiguities which have been highlighted in cases such Iurescu vs Minister for Justice[4] around what it means for someone to make an application on behalf of a minor arising from the language in 15(3) of the 1956 Act.

Head 45 seeks to insert Section 15B of the 1956 Act in respect of the calculation of ‘continuous residence’ which is required in the year prior to an application for naturalisation. The previous Ministerial policy around defining ‘continuous residence’ was the subject of judicial comment in the High Court and subsequently of the Court of Appeal in Jones vs Minister for Justice.[5]

‘Continuous residence’ is now to be defined as requiring physical residence for the entirety year prior to an application for naturalisation save for 70 days in ordinary circumstances and an additional 30 days in in exceptional circumstances as defined in 15B(2) of the 1956 Act. Again however it is questionable as to whether this actually goes far enough and there are concerns that this will encourage an arbitrary approach towards the calculation of reckonable residency.

 

Amendment to International Protection Act 2015

Head 50 of the Bill seeks to amend Section 48(3) of the International Protection Act which relates to the time an individual has to seek a review of a decision not to grant them permission to remain as part of the international process.

Pursuant to the proposal contained in the Bill International Protection applicants now have 30 days instead of 5 days to make further submissions to the Minister to review their decision not to be granted permission to remain. The previous scheme was extremely difficult and allowed practically no time for an applicant to obtain an appointment with a solicitor, gather updated documentation and submit a proper review. Grating an applicant 30 days within which to seek a review a significant practical change and will come as a great comfort to those seek to avail of a review.

If you require assistance or have a query in relation to the above and how you might be effected do not hesitate to contact Stephen Kirwan of this office at stephen.kirwan@kodlyons.ie or at 01-6790780

 

[1] General_Scheme_Courts_and_Civil_Law(Misc_Prov)_Bill_2021.pdf (justice.ie)

[2] Barristers and solicitors to jointly provide legal services for the first time under new Bill from Ministers Humphreys and Browne – The Department of Justice

[3] Naturalisation for Irish Born Children: Analysis of Recent Proposed Reforms | KOD Lyons

[4] [2019] IEHC 535

[5] [2019] IECA 285