Tuesday, 14 October 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
467. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who have sought or have been granted residency here based on having an Irish-born child; and the total number of Irish children, born to non-national parents in recent years, who might be entitled to apply for residency. [23193/03]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): My Department does not have details of the number of Irish children born to non-national parents. With regard to non-nationals who applied to my Department for residency on the basis of parentage of an Irish-born child, I can inform the Deputy that statistics are only available from 1996. From 1996 to 23 January 2003, the date of the decision of the Supreme Court in the cases of L and O, 10,401 persons were granted residency on that basis.
Following this decision of the Supreme Court, the separate procedure which then existed to enable persons to apply to reside in the State on the sole basis of parentage of an Irish-born child ended on 19 February 2003. The Government decided that the separate procedure would not apply to the 11,493 cases which were outstanding on that date.
468. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of the procedure for assessing an application for residency based on having an Irish-born child; the number of public servants involved in this work; the estimated time it takes to process a case; the number of cases on which a decision has been reached; and if he will provide an analysis of the decisions taken to date. [23194/03]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Following the decision of the Supreme Court on 23 January 2003 in the cases of L and O, which held that no automatic residency rights obtain in respect of non-national parents of Irish-born children, the Government decided that the separate procedure which had then existed to enable persons to apply to reside in the State on the sole basis of parentage of an Irish-born child would not apply to cases which were outstanding on 19 February 2003 – that is cases where applications were lodged but where no decision had been made.
In relation to outstanding claims to reside in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish-born child, numbering approximately 11,000, and future claims for leave to remain in the State from the non-national parents of Irish-born children, the Government decided that every such cases would be examined and decided individually.
In respect of every person, including a parent of Irish-born children, who has no legal entitlement to remain in the State, a letter issues under the terms of section 3(3) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, informing him or her of the Minister's intention to deport. The person is allowed 15 days in which to opt for one of the following: make representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he or she should not be deported, that is, be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leave the State before an order is made; or consent to the making of a deportation order.
Where a person does not consent to a deportation order or does not leave the State voluntarily, the Minister is required to take a number of factors which are specified in section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, into account in determining whether or not a deportation order should be made. These factors include considerations relating to the common good, the person's individual family and domestic circumstances and humanitarian considerations. In the case of a parent of an Irish-born child, particular regard is given to the Supreme Court judgment in the L and O case and the subsequent judgments in this area. The Minister is also required to consider the prohibition on refoulement which is contained in section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended.
Given the complexity of the task which the individual consideration of each of the outstanding Irish-born child cases will involve, it was agreed that additional staff resources would be provided by way of a levy on Departments to process these cases. These staff will be coming on stream in the near future to begin work on case  processing. At this stage it is not possible to give an accurate estimate of how long on average it will take to process cases, as some will be more complex than others.
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