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Temporary process set up for granting citizenship during pandemic

4,000 people awaiting citizenship will be able to finish the process by the end of March.

File image of a citizenship ceremony in Dublin's Convention Centre in 2017.
File image of a citizenship ceremony in Dublin's Convention Centre in 2017.
Image: Sam Boal

A NEW TEMPORARY system to allow people to complete citizenship applications by signing a statutory declaration has been set up. 

The Department of Justice said this will provide 4,000 people with the opportunity to finish their citizenship process by the end of March. 

As in-person ceremonies are not taking place due to Covid-19 restrictions, from today a signed statutory declaration can be exchanged for a certificate of naturalisation.

This replaces the usual requirement for applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies. 

Naturalisation is the way in which people from other countries living in Ireland can apply for Irish citizenship. 

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said she is “pleased that we can now bring some certainty to the people whose applications have effectively been on hold during the pandemic”.

Approximately 4,000 applicants have not been able to receive a certificate of naturalisation due to the temporary suspension of citizenship ceremonies.

“A significant number of healthcare and other frontline workers who have made extraordinary contributions during the pandemic will benefit from these new arrangements over the coming weeks and months,” McEntee said. 

Under the new system, people will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email. They will have to bring this to one of the listed designated officials who must witness the signing. 

The applicant can then send the statutory declaration, the fee and any other requested documentation to the citizenship division of the department. 

This new system is in place from today. 

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Citizenship ceremonies have not been held as normal since 2 March last year when 5,000 people from over 100 countries officially became Irish citizens. 

Helen McEntee said in-person ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to resume in December this year, “subject to the safety of all involved being assured”. 

There are more than 24,000 citizenship applications in the works, including around 4,000 that are in the final steps.

A pilot virtual citizenship ceremony took place in July this year for 21 people who officially became citizens.  

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