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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 26 June, 2019
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'I surpass any requirements for a passport' - Mother faces being split from children in citizenship wrangle

Megan Crowley lives in Belfast and has two young daughters.

Megan Crowley (l) and her family.
Megan Crowley (l) and her family.
Image: Megan Crowley via Twitter

A BELFAST MOTHER-OF-TWO is appealing to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to intervene in her citizenship case – or else she faces being separated from her family.

Megan Crowley, who is originally from Boston, has been married to Irish citizen Richard for 12 years and the couple has two young daughters.

Megan’s UK visa expired just before Christmas, but she had been informed by the Department of Justice here in a letter in December that she would be granted Irish citizenship, avoiding a family split. The letter informed Megan she would be invited to a citizenship ceremony.

Despite being told that she would be invited to the next available citizenship ceremony, which was held last week, no invite arrived. Irish citizenship is not officially conferred until a Certificate of Naturalisation is given, either at a ceremony or by post.

“I had waited on the date of the ceremony, I’d bought a green dress and I had booked a hotel room in Killarney, but no invite came,” Megan told TheJournal.ie.

Queen’s University student Megan says that she has been unable to obtain a British passport due to strict criteria on income which she and her husband do not meet. This led to her pursuing an Irish passport, which would allow her to stay in the North.

Megan has directly appealed to Flanagan to intervene, but his Department says that it will need to see proof that Megan’s status in the UK is legal before it can proceed. A spokesperson did not comment on how or why Megan was told she would be given citizenship only to not receive it.

The Department of Justice and Equality does not generally comment on individual cases but irrespective of the jurisdiction from which an applicant applies, the Minister cannot consider such an application unless the appropriate permission to remain is in force and we have evidence of same.

Status

For Megan, however, proving her status is legal is difficult.

When she received the date of the Irish citizenship ceremony she cancelled her application for a temporary British visa because she needed her US passport returned in order to fly to the US to visit her sick father. She wants to have her citizenship formalised to allow her return to her family and her studies, which have had to be delayed due to the confusion.

This confluence of circumstances has left Megan facing the prospect of leaving the country in less than a month and being separated from her husband and two daughters. As her right to remain in the UK has expired and she has not become an Irish citizen, she would have no legal way of returning to Belfast full-time.

“We’ve never broken any laws, never done anything wrong. We’ve been married 12 years, I have an Irish husband and two Irish kids. We assumed it would take six months because it was a straightforward case.

I well surpass any requirements for Irish citizenship.

“This is going on nearly 15 months.

They’ve had my application for all this time and never asked me for anything, I assumed we were going to get it.

The wrangling means that Megan will fly home to the US with her daughters for the summer before the girls return to Belfast in August to prepare for school, meaning that the family will be split up.

From there, Megan fears that she will have to attempt to formalise her status here from the US – nearly 5,000km away from her family. She does not know how long this process will take, but fears it may be some time.

She says that she believes Flanagan has the power to use his discretion to award her citizenship without seeing confirmation of her status, something that has formed the basis of her appeals.

Megan and Richard have received the help of TDs in Ireland and have mounted a Twitter campaign to ask Flanagan to allow their family remain in one place.

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