Court of Appeal overturns citizenship ruling with ‘unduly rigid’ residency criteria

The Court of Appeal has overturned a landmark High Court ruling which adopted an “unduly rigid” interpretation of the residency criteria for Irish citizenship applicants.

In an unexpected decision in July, Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that the requirement for “one year’s continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of the application” should be applied with reference to the dictionary definition of “continuous”.

In effect, the High Court held that applicants for citizenship must not have left the State at all in the year leading up to their application.

The Court of Appeal yesterday determined that the High Court had erred in its “overly literal” and “unduly rigid” interpretation of the law.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “While the full judgement will need to be studied in its entirety over the coming days, I very much welcome today’s decision of the Court of Appeal with regard to citizenship applications.

“I understand that, for applicants, their families and their friends, the past few months will have been quite stressful. Today, the Court has provided legal clarity, and upheld the lawfulness of our residency rules governing citizenship through naturalisation.

“As I stated on various occasions since July, the processing of applications has continued. I have now asked my officials to do everything possible to organise a Citizenship Ceremony to take place in December. Further ceremonies will take place early in 2020.

“I want to assure applicants that my Department will provide at least four weeks’ notice in advance of ceremonies to allow applicants to make any necessary arrangements. Details will be published on the Department of Justice and Equality website over the coming weeks.”

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