Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill 2004: Report Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 593 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 178 Next Page Last Page

Debate resumed on Amendment No. 2:

[506]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Approximately 850 of the 11,493 applicants fall into the category of persons employed here on foot of a work permit who have their families here. The reason such persons sought residency on the basis of the Irish born child was that the terms of such residency were seen to be more advantageous in that the non-national in question would be free to work without an employment permit. However, it is likely there are parents who have never applied but who may apply if their employment permit runs out.

The separate application process for Irish born children, to which some Members referred in their supplementary questions, ceased with effect from February 2003. No applications were made under that system from that time onwards. Notwithstanding this, the Minister estimates that approximately 6,000 non-EEA national mothers gave birth in the State since then. For example, 110 women who proclaimed themselves to be pregnant claimed asylum in the offices of the refugee applications commissioner in September and October of this year, that is, 40% of the female asylum seekers of child bearing age. This figure is based on self-certification and I have no idea of the number who may have been pregnant but who did not avert to this. Neither do I have any idea of the number of women who may have entered the State illegally and who did not claim asylum but had a child here. For example, an asylum seeker in the United Kingdom might be reluctant to claim asylum here because under EU rules, the UK is the proper place to have the claim determined and the Eurodac fingerprinting system would identify her as a double claimant.

Another issue is that of family members resident outside the State who will seek residency as soon as their parents’ residency is settled. There are literally thousands of what might be termed Irish born child families who have other children in their country of origin living with grandparents, relatives or otherwise. A recent examination of the family situations of 555 Irish born children in my Department indicated that they had 428 non-national brothers or sisters outside the State and 248 non-national brothers or sisters in the State. This does not take account of parents or other relatives who may be here or abroad. I hope this foregoing illustration gives an idea of the complexity of the situation with which we are dealing and shows that there are no easy answers to some of the issues raised in the debate.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The response of the Minister of State is unsatisfactory and highlights the lack of wisdom on the part of the Government in going ahead with Report Stage of the Bill on a day when the Minister is not available. While I accept that he is on official duty abroad, I have had no explanation as to why the Bill did not go ahead yesterday. That the Minister, like an over[507]grown schoolboy, put on a show in the Phoenix Park while launching the traffic corps is not a reasonable explanation for sidelining the Bill given that he specially arranged to be in the House yesterday.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The Bill was scheduled for last night but was deferred by agreement of the Whips.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  It was not.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It was scheduled for yesterday, by special agreement with the Minister.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  It was scheduled for last night.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  There was no agreement with the Whips.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  It was scheduled for 6.30 p.m. yesterday.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy O’Keeffe to continue.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It was scheduled for immediately after the Order of Business yesterday, by special arrangement with the Minister. He asked us to agree this when we were on Committee Stage last week. He wanted to complete Committee Stage last Thursday morning so that he could take the Bill on the following Tuesday, yesterday. He then had a brainwave about undertaking a political stunt in the Phoenix Park. Like an overgrown schoolboy, he gathered together the resources of the State, including at least ten Garda cars and four or five Garda motorcycles, at a heavy cost-——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are moving away from the content of the amendments under discussion.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  What was the cost of that? What might the 20 or 25 gardaí there have been doing in the interests of the State if they were not acting as a political backdrop for the Minister and playing games-——

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The Deputy was a fair man at that.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  ——-by announcing a traffic corps that will become operational in 2008? Leaving that aside, the Minister is not in the House and it is clear the Minister of State has no instructions or authority to yield to the legitimate points made by the Opposition.

Does the Minister appreciate there is genuine concern on the part of the Opposition with regard to the parents of Irish children? To a varying degree, depending on whether the children were born before or after the Supreme Court decision, there is a genuine feeling among Members that Irish citizen children who were born here should [508]not be forced out of the country. It is fine for the Minister to state they are not being deported but while babies or children are not being deported, if their parents are deported the practical effect is that the baby or child goes also. That this has happened in some 37 cases, on the Minister’s own admission, causes genuine concern in the House, as does the position of the parents involved.

An important point that has not been taken on board by Government is that this issue relates to a finite number of cases. We are not looking for an open door policy given that we do not have an immigration policy. Although that is another issue and I will not stray down that path, that there is not an overall immigration policy forms a backdrop to this. The particular issue is limited and finite. It will not arise again because when the law is changed, there will not be new cases involving non-national parents of Irish children because citizenship in this regard will be defined by the Bill.

I accept the Minister’s point that the issue is not simple or straightforward but complex. I have been long enough in the House to know that for every complex problem there is a simple solution that does not work. I am not saying the answer must be a simple amnesty. However, I cannot accept that the answer is to leave the matter to the Minister. That would be a huge leap in the dark and requires us to take the Minister totally on trust on this issue. We would be expected to do so under a system that does not have any external, objective evaluation of the situation. It is all within the Department and the Minister’s office, which is a problem.

  4 o’clock

It is clear the Minister is running an utterly chaotic system that is incapable of dealing with the situation. Applicants are hanging around for years waiting for decisions but nothing happens. Most tellingly, Members cannot even get a reply on the telephone from the section of the Department dealing with these issues. A reasonable case was made to the Minister for a helpline to deal with queries from Oireachtas Members, but it could not be done. I requested it six months ago. We have a system which is within the Minister’s control, including what might be called the appeals system. Under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, the Minister issues a notice of intention to deport. The Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, points out that there are options open to the recipients after that. They can consent to the making of the deportation order, and leave the State before the order is made or they can make representations to the person who gave them the notice to leave the State, namely, the Minister.

If an effort is being made to suggest that this is by any standards a fair, just, equitable, open, transparent and accountable system, that is laughable. That is why I suggested there was a role for an appeals committee comprised of retired members of the Judiciary, a nominee of the Minister, which would at least dilute the Minister’s total control of the situation, and a member of [509]the Human Rights Commission. This seems a reasonable approach. I am open to an alternative suggestion, but what I have tried to do, as I did with the proposal for an amnesty. is to raise the issue with a view to finding a sensible, fair and just solution. I would be open to an alternative proposal from the Government for a better and more accountable system, but the shutters are down, the Minister has control and he keeps it. If it takes two years to get a reply to one’s letter, so be it. That is what has happened under the Minister’s watch. People were officially notified under the citizenship Acts to wait two years for a possible reply. That is how the Minister runs his ship, and we are expected to have some reliance on that utter incompetence.

On that basis I cannot accept the bona fides of the Minister in this matter. His utter incompetence in dealing with the situation to date does not inspire confidence on my part. I cast no aspersion on a personal level on the decency or sensibility of the Minister. I speak of him with his political hat on, and my political charge is that I do not have confidence in him. Accordingly I intend to press the amendment to a vote.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There is a group of amendments.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are considering amendment No. 2.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will I be allowed speak again on the amendment?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No. The Deputy spoke twice and is only entitled to speak twice on the [510]group of amendments. Only the proposer of the first of the group of amendments may speak further.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is just a matter of clarification.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister of State has already replied twice and is not entitled to reply further. Deputy Jim O’Keeffe has concluded the debate.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The rules have already been strained to some degree.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Unfortunately, under the Standing Order, the Chair is now obliged to put the question.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Amendment No. 2 is a technical amendment. If necessary, I can proceed on the basis of voting with regard to the group of amendments but I would prefer if the vote were taken on one of the more substantive amendments, perhaps amendment No. 16.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We can take the amendments seriatim and amendment No. 16 can be put to a vote. The Deputy might agree to merely a voice vote on the current amendment, or he might withdraw it.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I might take it that a vote on the amendment before us would be representative of our views with regard to the group of amendments.

Amendment put.

[509]The Dáil divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 70.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  


[511] Níl
Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael. Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.

[511] Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg; Níl, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher.

[511]Amendment declared lost.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I move amendment No. 3:

[512]Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  I move amendment No. 4:

Amendment put.

[511]The Dáil divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 70.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  [513]Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  


[513] Níl
Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael. Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.

[513] Tellers: Tá, Deputies Boyle and Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher.

[513]Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 5 not moved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendments Nos. 6, 12, 13, 19, 33b and 34 are related and may be taken together. Amendment No. 13 is an alternative to amendment No. 12.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 6:

While the Minister is supportive of the principle of Deputy Costello’s amendments Nos. 13 and [514]33b, I will oppose them and ask the House to accept instead the Government amendments which achieve the same end.

The amendments in the Minister’s name address the substance of Deputy Costello’s amendment, which is to import the notion of acts being done on behalf not only of those who are under age but on behalf of persons who are suffering from a lack of capacity by reason of mental infirmity. I again express the Minister’s thanks to the Deputy for bringing the issue forward on Committee Stage. These Government amendments deliver on the Minister’s commitment given then to take on board the substance of what the Deputy proposed wherever this issue arises in the Bill.

During Committee Stage there was discussion on the different meanings and contexts of words [515]and phrases such as “capacity”, “lack of capacity” and the cognate expression “disability” as used in other statutes. For instance, in the Prize Bonds Regulations “disability” includes not only mental incapacity but also bankruptcy, a concept not really relevant to the entitlement to Irish citizenship by birth on the island of Ireland. In the criminal law context, “full capacity” is taken to mean something quite different, where a child under the age of seven is doli incapax, which literally means incapable of wrongdoing, and a person under the age of 13 is presumed to be doli
incapax
unless the contrary is shown. That is not what anyone would want in the context of citizenship law.

Turning to the Statute of Limitations, we find that the concept of a person “under a disability” includes a minor, a “person of unsound mind” in that now somewhat anachronistic phrase, or a convict subject to the operation of the Forfeiture Act 1870. This should have no bearing on a person’s entitlement to citizenship by birth in Ireland. The situation gets more complex when we take into account that the disability concept also encompasses disability in the special circumstance of a person who has been sexually abused in childhood such that he or she is unable to initiate civil proceedings arising out of that abuse; it is likewise a notion of incapacity far removed from the acquisition of citizenship.

There was consensus in Committee that the intention should be to cover incapacity of mind only, whether arising out of illness or physical damage and, accordingly, the Minister required parliamentary counsel to prepare suitable amendments that encapsulate that notion.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I thank the Minister for taking on board the substance of what I proposed in the amendment I tabled on Committee Stage. Section 3 refers to a person who is not of full age and is therefore incapable of doing what an Irish citizen is entitled to do, in other words, to apply for citizenship. The legislation would be defective if some provision was not made for those who are not of full age and also for those who would be incapacitated in terms of doing what an Irish citizen is entitled to do.

The thrust of amendment No. 6. is to include the definition of “mental incapacity” however that comes about, whether through illness or a learning disability. I question if the Minister’s description in amendment No. 12 is accurate. The amendment proposes the substitution of the following words, “in the case of a person who is not of full age or who is suffering from a mental incapacity”. Rather than the words “suffering from a mental incapacity” the words “experiencing a mental incapacity” might be a more neutral way of expressing what is proposed. Amendment No. 19 also refers to a person who is suffering from a mental incapacity. This seems to imply that mental incapacity is related to illness only. Normally we do not use the expression “in relation to a [516]learning disability”, but the Minister might reconsider this wording to include a more appropriate form of words. However, the thrust of the amendment is welcome and it improves the legislation.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The definition of mental incapacity is dealt with in amendment No. 6. It encompasses everything that is required by the Deputy.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The way in which mental incapacity is defined in amendment No. 6 is appropriate. It proposes that “‘mental incapacity’ means, in relation to a person, incapacity by reason of a mental condition to manage and administer the person’s affairs;”. The words “suffering from a mental incapacity” occur in amendments Nos. 12 and 19. A more appropriate form of words might be “a person who has or experiences mental incapacity” rather that including the rather loaded word “suffering” which implies something further that is not required and it seems to refer more to an illness than a learning disability.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  “Suffering” is the appropriate verb. We consulted the parliamentary counsel on this issue. There is no loading in the word “suffering”. We have consulted on this and it is the appropriate word.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 7:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 8:

We had some discussion on this matter on Committee Stage when I introduced the concept of non-marital partners, which is not part of the legislation. I proposed that this concept would have a similar interpretation to that which applies to spouses. This would imply, therefore, modifications that would be appropriate in the opinion of the Minister would be to made to the provision of nationality and citizenship law to take cognisance of the new concept of non-marital partners.

[517]This concept is becoming a matter of discussion and debate in respect of other legislation with the changing nature of Irish society and the percentage of Irish citizens and non-nationals involved in relationships not formally bonded in marriage. Nevertheless, they are substantial and often long-term relationships, for life in many cases. There are also strong same sex relationships that cannot be bonded in marriage at least at present, but recognition is not given to people in such a relationship under our citizenship laws or nationality law. Quite considerable post-nuptial benefits are conferred under the legislation to date, which are not available to non-marital partners. I know this cannot be grasped by the Minister of State with alacrity but it needs to be examined. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, with other Departments and the parliamentary draftsman, should consider how inroads could be made into this category of people, which now constitutes a significant group. Some people in this category recently resorted to the High Court to seek recognition of their relationships.

Given that Irish citizenship is so prized, that there are so many ways of gaining naturalisation and that one of those is marriage, there should be some discretion in the matter. The Minister has discretion in various areas to grant citizenship. Discretion with regard to association or affinity with Ireland, descent or blood, is not specifically stated. This is a new concept and one which has merit in being recognised. I would like to see it incorporated in the legislation. There should, at least, be a reference to and recognition of the fact that a long-standing relationship can infer entitlements. This recognition should not be confined to spousal relationships, which might not be as strong as a partnership relationship.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Deputy Costello has raised an interesting point in the light of developments in our society in recent years. It is important that our legislation should be reflective of those developments. We are not talking about a passing fashion or whim. We are talking about a developing trend in our society which is likely to grow. Deputy Costello is right to raise the issue of how we react to non-marital partnerships in the context of immigration and citizenship law.

There have been political developments in this area in recent times. My party colleague, Senator Sheila Terry, issued a comprehensive document on civil partnerships last year. I was glad to note that the new caring Taoiseach recently recognised that there is a problem here. He may also be thinking there are a few votes in the issue, which I presume will be the motivation behind most of his actions henceforth. Last weekend, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform acknowledged this issue.

The approach suggested by Deputy Costello would be best dealt with in the context of a broader debate on civil partnerships, along the lines proposed by Fine Gael. Before one could [518]give formal legal rights there would have to be a formal legal arrangement. For that reason, the civil partnership approach of Fine Gael is the one I recommend to the House. If we were to adopt that approach I would be supportive of a proposal along the lines of Deputy Costello’s amendment, which could be incorporated into a discussion on the establishment of a civil partnership arrangement.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  This amendment is opposed. It seeks to empower the Minister to make regulations covering the citizenship of non-marital partners and is flawed in a number of very important respects.

If the Minister were to table a Government amendment in the same terms as this one he would be roundly and properly criticised for attempting to arrogate to himself a wide and undefined power to decide the rules for applying the provisions of the 1956 citizenship Act to non-marital partners. I am confident that the movers of this amendment do not actually wish to vest such a power in the Minister of the day and have tabled this amendment simply to secure an opportunity to debate an issue which has acquired some topicality in recent weeks and months.

The amendment bespeaks only opportunism and displays a failure to make any effort to get to grips with the problem on which it touches. If its movers had any genuine interest in furthering the matter, they would not have tabled this woolly and sweeping wording. They would instead have looked at the provisions of the citizenship Acts that deal with spouses and come up with some proposal setting out how they should be amended to apply to non-marital partners, the expression used in the amendment.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Who wrote that for the Minister of State?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The provisions in question are primarily those dealing with naturalisation of the non-national spouse of an Irish citizen. The Deputy’s amendment does not make any suggestions as to how they might be modified to apply to non-national and non-marital partners of Irish citizens.

The amendment does not even attempt to say what sort of partnerships Deputy Costello has in mind. I can surmise that he would at least encompass same sex lifelong partnerships of the nature concerned in the recently commenced judicial review proceedings on taxation law. Does he also wish to include opposite sex partnerships where the parties have chosen, presumably deliberately, not to avail themselves of the complex of rights, protections and duties associated with the legal status of marriage, and who, if that is the case, clearly do not want the law to impose any such rights, duties or obligations of the type for which the Deputy would want to make regulations? Does he wish to include partnerships [519]where the parties would like to marry each other but cannot because one or both of the parties is already committed by publicly declared vows of marriage to someone else?

These are not easy issues. Undoubtedly it is in the nature of the human condition that people in a wide variety of situations will come to a wide variety of arrangements, whether formal or informal, which they think suit their particular circumstances. The question has become topical in recent weeks and months not just because of the High Court proceedings to which I have referred but also because of two other developments.

First, I refer to the publication by the Law Reform Commission last April of its consultation paper on the rights and duties of cohabitants. It is interesting to note that the commission’s provisional recommendation, at paragraph 9.23 of its paper, is that there be no change in citizenship law in this regard for the present. This recommendation is based on the acknowledged evidential difficulties of proving that a couple have in fact been cohabiting, particularly where that cohabitation is asserted to have taken place abroad. Deputy Costello’s amendment would of course require the Minister to jump the gun on the commission’s consultation process.

The other topical development is, of course, the recent invitation extended by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution to the public to offer views on the provisions of the Constitution dealing with the family. Deputies will appreciate the irony of an amendment requiring the Government to pre-empt debate in that forum being tabled by a party which was most vocal in its accusations that the referendum proposal giving rise to this Bill was just such a pre-emption. Deputies cannot have it every way.

In certain aspects the law as it applies to same sex couples needs to be reviewed. There may be a case for recognising such couples in taxation and pension law and, possibly, in other aspects of the law as well. There is also a case for looking at the situation of opposite sex couples who choose not to marry. However, it is not right to pre-empt the Law Reform Commission’s consultative process or to pre-empt the consultation process put in train by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. This sketchy amendment does not have any basis for going forward.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is Deputy Costello replying to the debate?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Yes, it is my amendment, but if somebody else wants to come in they are very welcome. The Minister of State is withering in his condemnation of the amendment, which, as he knows, was introduced only to be of assistance to him and to the Minister. The Minister of State says we cannot have it every way but we trust him and have provided him with some leeway in this amendment, which states:

[520]

Therefore, we have given the Minister some scope which he is always asking us to give him. He is always asking us to take him on trust. Now, however, the Minister of State throws it back in our faces and says he has been given too much scope. He does not want his opinion to be put into legislation. It must be about the only place in which he does not want his opinion to go.

The purpose of the amendment was to open up the debate and give some idea of a lacuna in the legislation. As it stands, the legislation makes special provision for spouses of Irish citizens. A person is entitled to make a declaration of post-nuptial citizenship if he or she has been married to an Irish citizen for at least three years. The description is that the marriage must be valid and subsisting, and the couple must be living together as husband and wife at the time of the declaration. That will be changed somewhat but that is the substance of how the declaration operates. That provision can be transferred entirely to a long-term partnership, that is, a relationship that is the equivalent of a spousal relationship or a married relationship except that it is not a marriage. In some cases it cannot be a marriage because it involves a same-sex couple and that is not allowed here.

In other cases it is the culture of quite a large segment of the community that a partnership is the way to go in society. The nuclear family based on marriage is no longer the norm in many areas of the country, as we all know. So the changing nature of Irish society is what is being referred to here and it would not tear the Bill apart, or require major changes in tax legislation, in order to incorporate it. We have seen the situation that operates already concerning social welfare benefits where the Government is quite able to take into consideration the fact that people are in a partnership relationship and it works accordingly. We could have made some progress in this area but I know the Minister of State will not accept the amendment. I did not really expect him to accept the amendment as it stands anyway but I hoped he would have been able to adjust its substance so that it could be incorporated into the legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Amendment
No. 9 has already been discussed with amendment No. 2.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I move amendment No. 9:

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Amendment
No. 10 has already been discussed with amendment No. 2.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment
No. 10:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment
No. 11:

This amendment relates to recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission. The commission recommended creation of a special procedure to allow for the accelerated naturalisation of children born in Ireland to minimise the chances of the creation of an under-class of Irish children with fewer rights. The commission’s submission to the Minister stated:

The commission pointed out that children born in Britain, for instance, are legally entitled to citizenship after ten years’ residency, as opposed to being entitled to apply for naturalisation, as would be the case when this Bill is passed. Furthermore, under the relevant British legislation, children born in the state are entitled to become [522]citizens if either parent becomes a citizen within five years.

The commission was also of the view that a separate naturalisation system appropriate for such children should be developed as part of a comprehensive review of the existing system of naturalisation. It recommended that the Minister should consider making provision for citizenship, as of right, for a child whose parents have continued to reside legally on the island after the child’s birth and who subsequently acquire the three-year residency requirement. The commission also recommended that the Minister should consider making provision for citizenship for children whose parents are granted temporary leave to remain in the State or whose mothers subsequently give birth to an Irish citizen child under the terms of this legislation.

For once, the Minister should take heed of the proposals from the Human Rights Commission and grant an accelerated process of naturalisation for children who come under the categories I have outlined.

Mr. P. McGrath: Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  I support the amendment. It is outrageous that the Oireachtas and the State should contrive to have two classes of person born in this country. Children who are born at any time in this State should be Irish as of right and they should be treated as such. In that context, some of the treatment of Irish children in this country is appalling. I will cite one such example. Two years ago, an Irish child born was born to its Nigerian mother living in Wexford. Quite recently, the mother was invited to come to Dublin to meet the immigration authorities and was given an appointment. When she travelled to Dublin, however, she was arrested without warning and brought to Mountjoy prison along with her child. The child was then brought to local social workers who put it into care down the country. When I made inquiries about this case, I discovered that it is a regular occurrence for Irish children, whose parents are non-nationals, to be treated in this way. They are put into care while their parents are imprisoned for no apparent reason other than that they are non-nationals. Is that the way we should treat Irish citizens? Is that the level of degradation we should mete out to our children? After all, we pride ourselves on treating children fairly and according them dignity. I question seriously how the Minister can stand over such behaviour.

  5 o’clock

When the Minister of State responds, I hope he thinks of the generations of Members of this House who over the decades have appealed to the American authorities to give special status to Irish illegal immigrants in the US by allowing them to stay and work there, to come home and return later, and by giving them American status and allowing their children have American status if they married somebody there. We have made such appeals to the American authorities as back[523]benchers, front benchers and in some cases Ministers.

We now have a minor difficulty here and we bring the rigours of the law to bear on all those people. I ask the Minister of State to step back and think again carefully about how children born here are treated. They should be treated in a fashion of which we can be proud and over which we can stand so that we as legislators can say that the children of the nation were treated equally. I ask the Minister of State to reconsider.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The amendment is opposed. Deputies will be aware that we have a comprehensive naturalisation process and the conditions applicable to this process are clearly set out in sections 15 and 15A of the 1956 Act. Section 16 of that Act gives the Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform absolute discretion in certain cases to grant a certificate of naturalisation where some of or all the conditions for naturalisation have not been complied with although this discretion is being circumscribed in the context of amendments in the Bill relating to the former investment-based naturalisation scheme.

Amendments to section 15 of the 1956 Act being made by section 8 of this Bill specifically countenance the possibility of a non-national child who was born in the State having an application for naturalisation made on his or her behalf. The normal conditions set out in section 15 of the 1956 Act will apply to such applications and the waiver conditions of section 16 can be called into play in suitable circumstances so the Deputy’s amendment is, to that extent, unnecessary.

I take issue with one aspect of the language in the Deputy’s amendment. No person who before this Bill had a right to Irish citizenship will be deprived of that right by the Bill’s coming into effect, whether that be a right deriving from birth in Ireland or from birth in some other place to an Irish parent. The Government committed itself to that principle in the draft Bill published in the context of the referendum proposal. The drafters of the Bill were at pains to ensure that commitment was adhered to in the Bill now proposed and the Government does not propose to break faith with the 80% of voters who supported the referendum, or indeed the other 20%, by reneging on that commitment.

The Deputy is referring to a different area of law that has nothing to do with the amendment in question, which deals with people who are not Irish citizens. The example cited by the Deputy relates to an Irish citizen and is covered in entirely different legislation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Without a procedure for accelerated naturalisation, in some cases parents will gain citizenship through the naturalisation process but their children will not necessarily become citizens at the same time. We will have a class of children with fewer rights who might not [524]be able to access the full benefits of our educational system because their naturalisation has not been processed owing to a backlog or bureaucracy. They might not be able to get the benefits of our health service — what few benefits they could enjoy — with other rights to which they might be entitled. While the Minister of State might take issue with the wording, the effect of the Bill is to deprive children born on the island not perhaps of their citizenship, but of their rights.

One of the rights of a citizen is to be afforded the care of his or her parents. The Chen judgment recognises this and international law requires us not to discriminate on that basis. This legislation takes away those rights, as happened to ten Irish children who were deported with their parents to Romania in the past week. Let us not forget that Romania is in the middle of negotiations, to be concluded in 2007, to join the EU, which means their parents will be entitled to come back here within three years. This is how silly this legislation is and how stupid is the process of deportations embarked upon by the Minister.

A Polish citizen deported in February was able to return on 1 May. The Government needs to get real. When proceeding with a deportation order the Minister needs to consider the person being deported and the benefit to the State of such deportation. The main point is that we need provision for an accelerated naturalisation process. As other Deputies said, at the moment the whole immigration process is bogged down. All these issues will go into the bureaucracy and remain there forever unless the Minister accepts the need for acceleration in all aspects of this legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 12:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 13 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 are alternates and may be discussed together by agreement.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 14:

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The amendment is opposed. The effect of the Deputy’s amendment, taken in conjunction with the deletion of section 6(4) of the 1956 Act provided for in section 3(c) of the Bill, [525]would be to confer Irish citizenship automatically on all children born on the island of Ireland to foreign diplomats. This would be contrary to accepted international custom and practice.

Persons with diplomatic immunity hold unique positions in their receiving state. They are entitled to privileges which are not available to the general population, citizens and non-citizens. For example, they hold tax-free status, have immunity from being brought before a court and giving evidence, and other privileges that protect the proper functioning of an embassy. Their purpose in the receiving state is to represent the interests of their own state, including their own nationals, in that state.

Recognised limitations exist in international law to the granting of citizenship of the receiving state to the children of diplomats. International instruments such as the Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws 1930 and the protocols to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 provide that the children of diplomats do not have an automatic right to acquire the nationality of the receiving State if they are born there. This international position was reflected in Irish citizenship laws since at least 1935. Section 2(7) of the 1935 Act excluded the children born in the State to foreign diplomat parents from Irish citizenship. In the 1956 Act, the original section 6(5) provided a similar exclusion.

This was the position until the 2001 changes to citizenship law, which implemented the changes arising out of the new Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. The wording of the new Article 2 was such that the exclusion could not as a matter of constitutional law continue in the Irish context and so the 2001 Act put in place a special procedure whereby the children of diplomats could if they wished exercise their entitlement to be Irish citizens by means of a declaration. With the change made by the most recent amendment in June, we are now able to revert to a large extent to the former position and section 3 of the Bill brings about that change.

The purpose of the amendment in the Minister’s name is to address a technical point to ensure that children of diplomats born before the enactment of the Bill retain the entitlement to Irish citizenship even where a declaration under section 6(4) of the 1956 Act asserting such entitlement is not made until after enactment. This is in keeping with the Government policy that the Bill would not remove the entitlement to Irish citizenship from any person who had that entitlement before its enactment. I urge the House to accept the Government amendment and reject Deputy Costello’s amendment.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This further curtails existing entitlements and leaves anomalies in other areas. Before this legislation, the children of diplomats living in Ireland were automatically entitled to [526]citizenship. We could not take that off them even if we wanted to. Why should we further restrict it when there are certain entitlements granted to diplomats in every country? In section 10, the non-national spouses of Irish citizens living in an embassy abroad will have their period of residence in the embassy counted for residency purposes. These are anomalies in the legislation which would not be allowed if the Minister was being logical. I do not say that diplomats should have extra privileges above those they already have, but this entitlement should be allowed. It is questionable to curtail existing entitlements and I see no reason for doing it. It is unnecessary and mean-spirited.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 15:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I move amendment No. 16:

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 are related and amendments
Nos. 20 and 31 are cognate and they will be taken together by agreement.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 17:

This is another anomaly in the Minister’s thinking. He requires that anyone entitled to Irish [527]citizenship should have a substantial connection with the country, in this case a four-year period of residency immediately preceding the child’s birth. He does not, however, take into consideration any period of time after the birth. Why should it be exclusively a period of time prior to the birth? Why not include the period of time both before and after the birth or a period time after the birth? Why is it not possible to accumulate the time that the non-national would be resident in the country for the purposes of granting citizenship? It is mean-spirited that the period after the birth should not be included.

Filipino nurses in Ireland on contract could end up with one child entitled to citizenship and another not entitled depending on the period of time before the birth. The Minister will say they can wait for five years and acquire the requisite residency time, but his or her employment contract might expire or be terminated. People working here on contract have little protection. It is logical to provide for a period of four years, with three years being the accumulated amount. If that principle remains valid, it is immaterial if the time is made up of a period before the birth or the period afterwards because it is a period of three years in which the person is connected to the country. Before or after the birth should not be a condition.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Section 4 is too broad. Even if we accept the Minister’s argument, the exclusions he has proposed deprive three other categories of children whose parents have no demonstrable intention to exploit or otherwise abuse our immigration system. These categories have been pointed out to the Minister by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Refugee Council and the Human Rights Commission.

I propose a new section 6(B)(2)(a) which excludes from the calculation of the qualification period any time within which the child’s parent or parents were not legally resident in the State. As the Human Rights Commission pointed out, exceptional circumstances do and can arise whereby a person’s legal status in this State might lapse temporarily through no fault of his or her own. Parents’ legal status in this State might lapse temporarily through no fault of their own, and this situation could subsequently become regularised. This is especially the case under the present defective work permit system whereby the employer holds all the power. The Irish Human Rights Commission argued that there needs to be a provision to ensure that the rights of a non-citizen’s child cannot be compromised due to the action or inaction of an employer. It can and does happen, for example, that an employer fails to renew an employee’s work permit without his or her knowledge. Such a situation could be entirely the fault of the employer. Quite regularly an employer submits a renewal application for a [528]work permit and, because of bureaucracy and the workload within the Department, it is not renewed on time. Somebody could be working in the hope that his or her employment situation would be regularised but his or her time here which permits qualification under this legislation might have temporarily lapsed.

I will deal in further amendments with other occasions and categories that may arise. However, this is one category the Minister needs to allow for, where parents may find that, through no fault of their own and because of glitches in the system or an employer not fulfilling his or her duty with regard to work permit regulations, their period of time in the country has been broken.

I know the legislation provides for a period of three out of four years. However, people have come to me for help in finding out the situation on their work permit applications, who have been waiting for replies for up to eight months and for whom the situation is not improving. It could soon happen that people will have been waiting for the Department to make a decision or progress work permit applications for longer than a year. This would break the qualification time limit which would mean they would end up outside the loop this legislation imposes on them.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The amendments are opposed. The purpose of the proposed new section 6A of the 1956 Act is to lay down the general rule that a person born to non-national parents, either of whom has been lawfully resident in the State or Northern Ireland for at least three out of the four years preceding the birth, will have an entitlement to Irish citizenship. There is no question of such a person having to make an application for citizenship. If the parents satisfy the residence criteria, the child will have, by operation of law, an entitlement to Irish citizenship.

Deputy Costello’s amendment No. 17 is not only unnecessary, it appears to assume that before a person born in Ireland can acquire the entitlement to be an Irish citizen, there must be an application and that somehow Irish citizenship in these cases is in the gift of a Government body. That is not the case. It is Parliament and not some Department of State that will dictate by this law that it is being asked to pass which children born here will be citizens.

The residence requirement being introduced by the Bill coheres with the minimum period of residence in Ireland required for the non-national spouse of an Irish citizen to be eligible for naturalisation. This period is sufficiently long to represent a substantial connection with the State but not so long as to act as an unreasonable limitation. The date of birth of the child is the most sensible reference point by which qualifying residence should be calculated and any other would only give rise to confusion and uncertainty. For this reason, I cannot accept amendment No. 17.

Amendment No. 18 seeks to introduce into the rules for acquiring an entitlement to Irish citizenship by birth in Ireland the concept of ordinary [529]residence as distinct from actual residence of the non-national parents in Ireland. The term “ordinarily resident” is generally used to distinguish the quality of the residential status of what might be described as a settled individual from that of an individual with a more fleeting presence. The Government has included in the proposed section 6B of the 1956 Act a comprehensive, objective and easily administered mechanism for determining these matters. In the case of a non-EU national who is resident in the State, for example, he will need to show immigration stamps covering a period of three out of the last four years. This period was deliberately chosen to allow for unintentional gaps in periods of residence. If the person in question has the required stamps, it will not be necessary for officials in the passport office, for example, to look further before issuing a passport to the person’s Irish-born child. If Deputy Costello’s amendment were accepted, it would be necessary for officials to determine whether the person with the required passport stamps could be deemed to have been ordinarily resident for three years. This would constitute an unnecessary complication in the passport acquisition process for an Irish citizen child. I ask the Deputy to accept that the formula in the Bill as it stands provides all the flexibility that is required and that it should be left as is.

Regarding amendments Nos. 20 and 31 in the name of Deputy Ó Snodaigh, it has never been the case that a person who loses his or her job automatically forfeits permission to remain. The period of a person’s permission to remain which has not expired is allowed to continue in force and a decision on extension is made taking all his or her circumstances into account. Employers do not decide who is deported from the State. With regard to the last amendment tabled by Deputy Ó Snodaigh, the main point is that the acquisition of Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is a privilege, not a right. The discretionary nature of the naturalisation process is in keeping with international practice. Thus it is not the case that a person who has been resident here has a right to naturalisation after a period or even an extended period. Since 1935, all decisions on naturalisation, even where all the statutory conditions have been fulfilled, are expressed as being at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

A non-national’s permission to reside in the State for an extended period is not contingent on the acquisition of Irish citizenship. There are many non-nationals resident here who have never applied for Irish citizenship, in some cases because to do so would impact upon their citizenship of origin. Section 15(d) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 provides that an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation must have a period of one year’s continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, a total residence in the State amounting to four years. Section 16(b) of [530]the same Act, as inserted by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2001, includes a qualification to the effect that when calculating residence in the State in respect of an applicant for naturalisation who is required to have permission to reside in the State, no period will be reckoned where the applicant does not have such permission. Regarding amendments Nos. 20 and 31, I refer to what the Minister has pointed out on a number of occasions, namely, that the purpose of having a residence condition in this Bill expressed as three out of four years preceding the birth, is to allow for the gaps in actual and lawful residence that can arise in many cases.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will the Minister of State have a fresh look at the accumulation of time because the principle of three years’ residence in the country remains the same, whether prior to or after the birth? The section provides that the parents must, for a period of three out of four years immediately preceding the person’s birth, be resident in the island of Ireland. We are talking about the same two people who will be resident for a period, the principle being a period resident in the country. Why does it matter that the child would be born three years after the parents have been resident in the country rather than that the parents could spend three years in the country after the birth of the child? The principle is still the same. This is introducing an unfair element. Either we have the principle of residence or we do not. If one says one has a principle of residency but will operate it only prior to the birth of the child, then it is not a principle of residency and it violates the principle of residency.

A Filipino nurse could come to Ireland pregnant but that child will not gain Irish citizenship because the parents were not resident for three years prior to the birth of the child. On the principle of residency, the parents cannot gain citizenship for the child. They will have to wait for a period and apply separately under a different principle. If they are here for two years and another child is born, he or she will also not be entitled to Irish citizenship. Will the Minister of State acknowledge his own principle and have it as aggregated or accumulated time, whether prior to or after the birth?

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The Minister of State referred to three years and three out of four years. I am not sure of the origin of the three years or four years. Why is it not three out of five years or two out of three? If there was an explanation it might help.

In regard to my amendments Nos. 20 and 31, the Human Rights Commission said:

That can happen and probably more of this will emerge in later years. We have been dealing with the issue of work permits on a large scale only in recent years so we do not have figures on how often employers fail to renew employees’ work permits and the length of delays. There have been a number of cases in my constituency where employees have experienced delays of eight months. There may be others who have experienced longer delays. If they experience delays of over a year, they will be outside the three or four years required. Will the Minister of State take heed of that, acknowledge that exceptional circumstances occur and allow for them in the legislation?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I cannot accept the points made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh. With respect to the point raised by Deputy Costello, I remind the House that the purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the will of the people as expressed in the citizenship referendum on 11 June. In its information leaflet published in April 2004, the Government indicated its commitment to the draft Bill and a willingness to support any amendments proposed which would improve the Bill, consistent with the Government’s policy on citizenship. These amendments which Deputy Costello pursues seek to move away from the central provisions of the Bill which require non-national parents of Irish-born children to have been legally resident in the island of Ireland for three of the four years immediately preceding the birth of the child. There is a glaring contradiction in the proposal. Not only would this amendment, if accepted, be inconsistent with the Government’s citizenship policy which clearly has the support of the majority of the people, it would create a climate of uncertainty in so far as it would give rise to an expectation that a person born in Ireland with no entitlement to Irish citizenship would, by regulation, acquire Irish citizenship.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is not true. How would it give rise to uncertainty? All it does is extend the period under which residency is determined. At present, under this proposal, residency can only be three of the four years prior to birth of the child. Why is one not allowed take in two years before and one year after the birth or one year before and two years after? This is residency of the parents, not of the child, and it on the former on which the right to citizenship is determined. [532]There is nothing in the referendum wording put before the people to suggest there would be new regulations based on residency prior to the birth of the child. It is not in the explanatory memorandum. I do not see where the uncertainty arises. I do not accept there is uncertainty about the matter.

My proposal makes the procedure more logical and underpins the principle of the new legislation outlined by the Minister of State to make citizenship dependent on connection or connectivity with Ireland on the basis of residency of the parents. The parents are resident for whatever period before or after the birth of the child. I argue that the period of residency after the birth of the child would have more to do with the connection with the country of the child. Why should the Minister say unilaterally it must be prior to the birth? That does not make sense. The opposite would be very much the case. The longer the child is in the country after birth, the greater the sense of connection and the greater the value of the citizenship. It is of benefit to everybody, and the child will have an opportunity to put down roots in the country so that citizenship is more meaningful.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  We will have to agree to differ.

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 18 not moved.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 19:

[533]

Amendment agreed to.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment
No. 20:

[534]

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

[533]The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 34.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.  


[533] Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

[533] Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Stagg.

[535]Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendments Nos. 21 and 32 are cognate. Amendments Nos. 22 and 33 are related to the cognate group. Amendment No. 23 is an alternative to amendment No. 22. Amendments Nos. 21 to 23, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 32 and 33 will be discussed together.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 21:

The amendment seeks to give children of students who are lawfully resident here the option to avail of Irish citizenship, which is ruled out under the new legislation. It is another discriminatory element of the legislation. The Minister said there is a logical structure to the legislation. However, there are many anomalies whereby people are ruled out for one reason or another. The time a student spends in the country is not acceptable as comprising the residency period. If students are allowed into the country, they are here for bona fide reasons such as research. To rule that they cannot in any circumstances have their time computed in order that their children obtain citizenship is wrong. This rule appears to be mean-minded and contrary to the spirit of the legislation.

If there is a basic principle in the legislation, it is one of connection with the country. A student is dwelling, working, studying and putting down roots in the country. Whether these roots are put down in a university or academic setting or in a different category should not matter, they are residing and involved in the country. If people are studying as distinct from having a work permit or some other mechanism, I do not see why that cannot be computed as time spent in the country prior to the birth of a child.

Amendment No. 23 seeks to include the words “unless refugee status is subsequently granted to the person”. This would allow a successful refugee to backdate his or her period of lawful residence to the time of the original application. Again the principle is the same. It is a period of time valuably spent in the country and children of the family could equally have roots in the country. Children could be born during the period of the asylum process and may be going to school in the country. Surely this is a connection with the country. If the applicant is successful subsequently, what is the basis for the Minister of State’s argument that this is not taken into account as qualifying residency for the child to be granted citizenship? Surely it is a successful refugee application.

The process takes a long time because it is not streamlined. Nobody would deny that. It is slow and cumbersome. Even though there are fewer applicants at present, there is a huge backlog. Is it fair, given that many people have been waiting [536]up to nine years for a decision, that only the period of residency after an application for refugee status has been fully and finally dealt with is reckonable? I do not know of anybody who has been waiting more than nine years, but I know of somebody who has been nine years in the country.

  6 o’clock

Are we to take it on trust that what happened in the past will not happen in the future? Are we to take it on trust that, as soon as this legislation goes through, we will have a streamlined process for dealing with asylum seekers, that the initial application will be dealt with within a couple of weeks, that the appeals tribunal will deal with appeals and that the final decision will be taken within a few weeks or months? That is not the way it is now. It is not the way it has been in the past, and I am sure it is not the way it will be in the future.

I will quote some statistics. I had hoped the Minister of State would give the House a full breakdown of statistics between those awaiting decisions and those whose cases have been processed. He informed the House that 10,584 parents of Irish-born children had their cases processed between 1996 and 2003 and that 11,943 applications received since February 2003 are still outstanding. The Minister of State gave another figure, and I do not know how it fits in, relating to 6,000 non-EEA parents who gave birth since 2003. There are other statistics he did not give. The Coalition Against the Deportation of Irish-born Children provided them to me. If they are inaccurate, perhaps the Minister of State would let me know. He did not inform the House that 465 applications of parents of Irish-born children have been processed since February 2003 under the new scheme, of which 45 were granted and 420 refused. The Minister of State informed the House that 37 applicants have been deported, but he gave none of the other figures. There will therefore be approximately 380 more deportations. Those figures mean that in the 20 months since the L & O case and the end of the scheme a few weeks later, the 78 people who have been working on these cases have processed 465 cases to finality. That is an average of six cases——

Acting Chairman (Dr. Cowley): Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  The amendments deal with reckonable periods of residence. Deputies should attempt to relate contributions to the subject matter of the amendment.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This relates to the length of the period of residency. The figures I have given equate to a work rate of six cases in 20 months for each of the people in the Department who are working on it. That is quite a low work rate, if my figures are correct. These figures were given to me by a particular group of people and I would like to hear the Minister of State’s response to them.

The purpose of my amendment is to provide that, where an application for refugee status has been successful, the period of lawful residency should be reckoned from the time of the original [537]application. There are grounds for doing that because the process is so slow and cumbersome as well as being unaccountable and non-transparent, given the difficulty of making contact with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to find out what is happening in individual cases. In those circumstances, is it not fair that a person whose application for refugee status has been granted should be allowed to date the period of lawful residency from three years prior to the birth of a child, irrespective of the length of time they have been an asylum seeker, for the purpose of acquiring citizenship for the child?

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  This is one of the categories in respect of which there should be flexibility and an acknowledgement of people’s circumstances. There are two aspects to be dealt with. The first, to which amendment No. 21 refers, relates to people who spent time here as students. The other, which is dealt with in amendment No. 32, relates to people who have spent time in the asylum process, including those applying for leave to remain here temporarily for humanitarian reasons. The proposed new section 6B(4)(b) excludes from the calculation of reckonable residency any time which the child’s parent or parents spent legally in this State on a student visa. The Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Commission on Human Rights have both raised objections to this unnecessary exclusion. It makes no sense. Students contribute to the economic life of this State, more in recent years than in the past. That foreign medical school graduates, whom we need to retain in Ireland to support our struggling health system, frequently decide to leave has a negative impact on our health care system in that we provide training for such students and our health care system loses when they decide there is no point in remaining here because the time they spend training will not be taken into account if they apply for naturalisation or citizenship.

The Commission on Human Rights maintains that this provision in the Bill is not consistent with the standards of justifiable discrimination set out in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They are the basic reasons for my amendment. I propose to strike this provision and make all time legally spent in this State for the purpose of study reckonable in any determination. Our economy needs well educated immigrants. I hope this will provide an incentive for those educated in the State to remain after they have completed their studies to raise families and continue their contribution to Ireland’s social and economic life.

Amendments Nos. 22 and 33 seek to include the time spent in the asylum process, including for those applying for temporary leave to remain for humanitarian reasons. Significant concerns have been raised by the Human Rights Commission, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council and the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism regarding the proposed new section 6B(4)(c) which excludes from the calculation of a qualifi[538]cation period any time within which the child’s parent or parents were legally resident in the State pending determination of a refugee claim. I propose in my amendments to strike this section to allow for any time spent lawfully in the State to be reckonable in any determination. This exclusion also affects children born to parents who apply for and are later granted a temporary right to remain on humanitarian and compassionate grounds under section 3(6)(h) of the Immigration Act 1999.

The Human Rights Commission, the National Refugee Council and the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism have called for the Minister not to penalise the children of those who are legally resident in the State for long periods pending determination of applications. Those eventually granted such protection also have a recognised right to the protection of the State under the principle of non-refoulement. The Human Rights Commission maintains there is not reasonable justification for the exclusion of children of such persons from the rights of citizenship.

I draw the Minister’s attention to the commission’s submission to him, where this issue is addressed. The submission states: “This exclusion is probably the most significant restriction on qualification for citizenship contained in the proposed Bill.” While recognising the current six month target for processing asylum claims and the recent progress made in reducing processing times, the commission reminds the Minister:

The commission reminds the Minister that “any person who is awaiting a final determination of their claim is clearly legally resident in the State and any failure to process their application in a timely fashion is ultimately the responsibility of the State and not the applicant.” The commission concludes: “While it would currently be exceptional for a person to await a final determination for a period of three years . . . the vast majority of asylum claims should be processed within a three year period”, as referred to in the Bill. Therefore, the exclusion in the Bill is not warranted.

With regard to the children of a parent or parents who do not fit the convention definition of a refugee but who are ultimately granted leave to remain here on humanitarian or compassionate grounds, such parents may have a legitimate fear of ill treatment. As the Human Rights Commission points out, such discretionary leave to remain in Ireland’s de facto system of complementary protection exists because the Minister has not yet legislated to introduce a formal [539]system of complementary protection, which is much needed. However, the draft Bill makes no direct reference to persons who have been granted such leave to remain for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. Therefore, such persons appear to be subject to the general residency requirement which would only begin after the leave to remain is granted as the period of time spent in an asylum process is and would be excluded.

The commission has called on the Government not to penalise the children of such applicants and, in putting my amendments, I repeat that call. How was the period of three years out of four decided upon? Why is it three years rather than, for example, four or five, or two out of four? Is there a specific reason the Government is hung up on this timespan? If so, perhaps the Minister of State will explain it to me.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I dealt with the issue raised in the last question. It was the most suitable timescale. The amendments are opposed. Amendments Nos. 21 and 32 aim to alter the rules for reckonability of residence provided in the Bill for the non-national parents of children born here and for naturalisation by permitting time spent on temporary permission for study purposes to be taken into account.

Arguments have been put to the Minister that many of those who come here to study go on to enter employment and put the qualifications they have acquired in our educational institutions to good use for the betterment of the Irish economy. While I accept that this sometimes happens, for the most part non-EEA nationals permitted to enter Ireland for study purposes are pursuing courses of short duration. Everyone who is in that position knows from day one that they are permitted to stay for the duration of the course of study and are expected to return home after that period is up. They know their status is temporary.

A graduate who secures employment here on foot of an employment permit or, depending on the field of work in question, a work authorisation, starts from scratch whether the qualification was obtained here or in some other country. Having served as Minister of State responsible for labour affairs at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I know there is wholesale abuse of the laws by persons remaining here illegally, which is unacceptable.

Given that a non-EEA student’s stay in the State is always temporary, it makes no sense to have a temporary stay reckoned towards the residence requirement for one’s child to acquire an entitlement to Irish citizenship. The principle underlying the Bill is that an entitlement to Irish citizenship should be available to the children born here of non-national parents who can demonstrate their commitment to life and a future in Irish society. Those who have been admitted for a purely temporary purpose and who know from the start that it is a temporary permission can have no expectation that it will be treated other [540]than as a temporary stay. I cannot accept this amendment as to do so would be to go against that fundamental principle of the Government’s policy on Irish citizenship law.

The effect of amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 33 would be to alter the rules for reckonability of residence provided in the Bill for the non-national parents of children born here, and for naturalisation, by permitting time spent as an asylum seeker to be taken into account. Deputy Costello’s preference in amendment No. 23 is that such time would only be taken into account if the applicant for asylum is granted refugee status subsequent to the birth of the child.

We have seen how the Irish asylum system has been abused in the past by parents anxious to avail of Irish citizenship law by securing the birth of their child on Irish soil. The history of many cases is the same. Expectant parents arrive in Ireland either by entering illegally and claiming asylum within the State or by making a claim for asylum at the point of entry in circumstances where they would otherwise be refused admission on normal immigration grounds. Shortly afterwards the child is born and within days or weeks the asylum claim is dropped and the parents seek to stay here on the basis of being parents of the Irish citizen child. The Bill will make that process no longer an attractive proposition because the child born in those circumstances will not be Irish.

Admission to the State for the purpose of making an asylum claim is strictly temporary. That has been a feature of Irish refugee law since the Referendum Act 1996. Asylum seekers are under no illusions about their temporary status. They are told that in advance in a language they can understand. The document which authenticates an asylum seeker’s stay in the State is called a temporary residence certificate. In the case of Gonescu, which was determined in July 2003, the Supreme Court confirmed this fact. It stated:

The sad experience of the Irish asylum system is that most claims turn out to be unfounded. I wish it were not so, but it is. This Bill makes it clear that if an asylum seeker in Ireland becomes the parent of a child born here, that child will not be entitled to be an Irish citizen unless the parent is stateless as well as an asylum seeker, in which case the child will not merely be entitled to be an Irish citizen but will actually be one regardless. That is the only circumstance where that applies. No false hopes are raised that maybe by having a child here one might at some stage in the future be let stay. One will only be let stay in Ireland if [541]it turns out that one is in need of the protection of the State.

I am satisfied that the Bill at it stands achieves the correct balance as it applies to the children of asylum seekers on the one hand and refugees on the other, and that any apparent anomalies can in practice be rectified by the naturalisation process. Similarly, as far as amendments Nos. 32 and 33 seek to change the policy settled in 2001 regarding the reckonability of temporary periods spent in the State for study purposes or as an asylum seeker, the logic is precisely the same, as is the position of the Government. For that reason I cannot accept these amendments.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I have not been persuaded by anything the Minister of State has said to date. With regard to the amendment about the time spent by a student in this country being reckonable, it does not carry much weight to say that people stay on or have stayed on and are abusing the laws. We are talking of people who are legally entitled to be here, students with student visas who come to Ireland to study. If they abuse the law in some way and stay on beyond the agreed period, obviously they do not come within the remit of any amendment which I or anyone else brings to the House. We are talking of bona fide students in this country who have put down roots, who have entered into relationships and to whom children have been born. Moreover, our hospitals are by and large served by non-national doctors and surgeons who came to this country and studied in the Royal College of Surgeons or the medical faculties of our universities, then stayed on and applied for jobs.

My second amendment relates to people who apply for asylum and then get refugee status. The Minister of State said that 90% of asylum applications are unfounded and that the asylum system is abused. Whatever the merits of what he says, we are talking purely of someone who made a bona fide application for asylum, for refugee status, and who has been granted it. We are blue in the face explaining to the Minister of State that people have been in the system for up to nine years. Under this legislation, that is not recognised in terms of the time.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Stanton): Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  I must stop the Deputy there. He may respond later.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The Minister of State said that he answered my question about the three year period. He said that was the most appropriate period. Why was that so decided? Where did the figure of 36 months come from? It is not good enough merely to say that is the most appropriate period. There must have been some determination. Is it comparable to the period in other jurisdictions or did the Minister simply pick it out of the air?

The Minister of State also raised the spectre of asylum seekers remaining illegally and abusing the system. I have always been of the opinion that those who abuse the system need to be dealt with [542]by the system. In terms of this legislation and the amendments, we are looking at those who have managed to get favourable judgments, with the periods they have spent in this country being taken into account in getting their children’s citizenship applications dealt with as quickly as possible and having those children accepted as Irish citizens. We must recognise that some students and doctors in this country have been contributing for a number of years so that their time spent here should be taken into account when they make a request for citizenship. Under this legislation it will not be considered.

The Minister of State said that some people made asylum applications which they dropped once they became parents of a child born in this country. The majority of those who drop their asylum applications do so because of encouragement by the officials of the Minister of State’s Department.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is not unusual that people studying in the Royal College of Surgeons or studying medicine elsewhere would be in Ireland for up to six years. That is the length the courses take and that is a considerable period of time. When we talk of students putting down roots, entering into relationships and getting married, all that can take place in that period of time. If someone later specialises in cardiology, for example, that takes a further period of time. Such people are entirely ruled out by the Minister of State.

I intend to put my second amendment to a vote if the Minister of State does not accept it. It relates to someone successfully applying for refugee status. If my amendment were accepted and the time spent in the process was reckonable for residency purposes for these people’s children, the best result would be that the State would be pressurised into putting in place a streamlined process so that people would not be in the system for up to nine years awaiting an outcome. That would be in the interests of the Government and of everybody as well as being a humane way of dealing with the issue.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  On a point of clarification, regarding the example of a doctor given by Deputy Costello, there is a scheme involving students and professionals. From the time a non-national student becomes a qualified doctor he or she enters into a different classification where all the classes of professionals are covered as workers rather than students. That is the beginning of their reckonable period.

I emphasise again that the number of those who apply to study in this country with no other reason than to gain access to the country is significant, as is the abuse in that area. We have to be very careful. The problem is people come here legally as students but have no intention of studying and wish to come in by the back door.

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

[543]Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment
No. 22:

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

[544]Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 23:

Amendment put.

[543]The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 66.

Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  


[543] Níl
Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael. Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.

[543] Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and McCormack; Níl, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher.

[545]Amendment declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendment No. 24 in the name of the Minister arises out of committee proceedings. Amendment No. 25 is an alternative. Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 may be taken together.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 24:

The content of Deputy Jim O’Keeffe’s amendment No. 25 was discussed on Committee Stage, at which time the Minister indicated that he would examine whether section 9 of the 1956 Act is redundant. This section provides that a “child born posthumously whose father was, on the date of his death, an Irish citizen shall acquire Irish citizenship under this Act on the same conditions as if his father were alive when he was born”. Having examined the provisions of the 1956 Act, in particular the amendments made in 2001 and those provided for by this Bill, we are satisfied that this section is redundant and can be repealed.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I accept the advice of the Minister’s officials and draftsmen that the Minister’s amendment is the correct way to deal with this issue. I accept the amendment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I am glad this section has been repealed. However, that this type of formulation was in place in the first instance is a poor reflection on the Department. We should not need to amend references to “father” to include references to “mother”. This is not the way to gender-neutralise legislation. The Department must consider a different mechanism to ensure that legislation which comes before the House is written in a proper fashion, rather than reviving the outmoded method of stipulating that “man” also refers to “woman” and “he” can also mean “she”, as utilised in Deputy Jim O’Keeffe’s amendment. I urge that a proper method for gender-neutralising legislation be introduced to give proper effect to our agenda to ensure that all legislation is properly reflective of society.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 25 not moved.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 26:

The purpose of this amendment is to bring clarity to the legislation by providing that the section is intended to relate to newborn infants who may unfortunately be found abandoned in the State. As currently drafted, the section could be con[546]strued as implying that any person up to 18 years of age could be considered as a foundling and thereby acquire an entitlement to Irish citizenship by operation of law. This amendment puts the issue beyond doubt.

Legislation in other states makes similar provision. In the United Kingdom, for example, section 1(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 refers to a “newborn infant who . . . is found abandoned”. Section 5(3)(b) of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 refers to “a person who, when a child, was found abandoned in Australia”.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I appreciate that it is only proper not to extend the protection of this provision to “bouncing babies” of 18 years of age. I understand the Minister’s concerns in that regard. I wonder, however, if there is a danger that we have gone too far the other way in confining the protection to newborn children. This leads to a situation where every deserted newborn child first found in the State shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been born in Ireland to parents at least one of whom is an Irish citizen. The problem as I understand it is that there is no definition of a newborn child. It that omission a defect in the legislation? Essentially, a strict and literal interpretation of a newborn child would be a baby who had just emerged, as it were. What is the position in the case of a two-month old, a two-day old or two-week old baby? I raise this issue because it might give rise to problems. Was it in the “Importance of Being Earnest” that a baby was found in a basket in a railway waiting room, or is my recollection of Wilde correct? How old was that baby? What is the definition of a “newborn child”, a phrase proposed to be inserted in the Bill?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I wish to add to what Deputy Jim O’Keeffe said. The Minister expressed concern on Committee Stage about a reference to
“infant” in terms of what exactly that word means and who is an infant. What age does one start and cease being an infant. Could one have a strapping big lad who is described as an infant? Who is a newborn child? There is the reference to newborn child in swaddling clothes. When is one a newborn child and when does one cease to be such? All the Minister of State has done in this regard is expand the dilemma and create further confusion with the reference to newborn child, especially since there is no such definition in the legislation. It seems there is a need to go back to the drawing board on this amendment to get greater clarification on what the new phraseology means.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The words “newborn” and “foundling” need to be interpreted in a sensible manner.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is a good one. Are we to take that on trust?

[547]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I am confident that in any case where there is a dispute, the courts will make a sensible decision based on the circumstances. Putting this another way, the term is left undefined in that the courts will decide the right definition in accordance with the circumstances.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I will not go to the wall, so to speak, on this amendment, but I find the Minister of State’s response weak to say the least. It does not clarify the issue or put it beyond dispute. If we are putting through this House what effectively is law, it should be clear as possible. The Minister of State’s explanation does not bring such clarity. I accept that this is probably an issue that will not arise too often. I do not know how many foundlings, to use an old expression, appear in the State in any one year. I imagine it must be a rare occurrence. With vulnerable, young women, such situations can arise from occasionally. I have read reports in the newspapers where the Garda Síochána has pleaded with mothers to come forward. Therefore, such cases arise. I will not go to the wall on this amendment, but I wish we had a clearer, more lucid explanation from the Minister of State on this point.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  What we are left with is whether to use the word “infant”, the word “foundling”, the phrase “newborn child” or some other phraseology. The Minister of State expects us to interpret the proposed wording in a common-sense way.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  What age would the Deputies accept? Will they not have some common sense?

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Why not use the word “baby”?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  What is the difference?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The word “minor” is too wide in scope but the word “baby” is more appropriate.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  A newborn child could possibly be interpreted as being a baby who has just emerged from the womb whereas a baby, in common parlance, although it would be up to the court to define the term, be it a week-old, a month-old or six-month old baby would clearly come within the definition——

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Come off it.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  ——whereas a six-month old baby might not necessarily be accepted as being a newborn child.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Costello should continue without interruption.

[548]Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That was a helpful intervention and not an interruption. I am sure the Minister of State appreciated it. The word “baby” seems closer to what is required. Why can we not define the term to be used? Would that not be the way to go about this? If the terminology, be it an infant, foundling or newborn child, is subject to various interpretations as to the age one is deemed to be or ceases to be in that category, why not include a definition of the term to explain what we mean? In that way it would not be left to the common sense of those in the courts or anybody else to determine at some future date. We are the legislators after all and the more loose ends tied up before consideration of the Bill is finalised the better. That would be preferable to leaving it to the courts to make a decision on the matter, which would only compound the problem.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I have nothing to add.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the amendment accepted?

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Be it on the Minister of State’s head.

Amendment put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendment Nos. 28 and 29 are related to amendment No. 27 and they can be taken together by agreement.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I move amendment No. 27:

  7 o’clock

Under the guise of abolishing the passports for sale scheme, it seems we are considerably reducing the meaning of that historic phrase “Irish associations”. We all know what the phrase “Irish associations” was interpreted as being. With the passports for sale scheme, Irish associations seemed to be so broad that virtually a friendly chat with somebody somewhere could almost create an Irish association. We hardly need dwell at this point on the abuses of that scheme that took place or were reported to have taken place. There are still question marks about the scheme and I welcome that we are putting an end to it once and for all. I compliment the Minister of State on doing that even though I am not as pleased that he does not provide any solid provisions in this legislation which would allow us to revoke any passports [549]that have been acquired in a fraudulent fashion — that is putting it a bit strongly — or acquired where somebody subsequently may have engaged in criminal activity. I tabled another amendment that addresses that issue, but I am not sure if it is one of this group of amendments.

Debate adjourned.


Last Updated: 04/11/2010 09:28:10 First Page Previous Page Page of 178 Next Page Last Page