High Court orders Minister to reconsider refusal of citizenship to Nigerian woman

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan.

A High Court judge has overturned a refusal by the Minister for Justice of citizenship to a Nigerian woman on the basis of the Minister's view she is not "of good character".

The Minister must reconsider the woman's application in line with the findings of Mr Justice Max Barrett.

The woman came here in 2000, got residency in 2001 on the basis of having an Irish-born citizen child, and now has two citizen children, one with a serious disability.

She claimed to have suffered violence by the children's father and lost the care and custody of the children in 2008 when she was going through serious problems with the father.

She is now working, pursuing a third-level qualification, has access to her youngest child and has resumed contact with her eldest child, now an adult.

In his 2018 decision refusing her citizenship application, the Minister said she had not disclosed, when answering a question on the application form, she came to the "attention" of gardaí on two dates in 2007 as a witness in respect of incidents of child neglect and cruelty and he was thus not satisfied she is of good character.

Mr Justice Barrett asked how being a "witness" to something could possibly be relevant to an application form question asking: "Are you, or have you ever been, the subject of an investigation in Ireland by An Garda Siochana including where you were not charged with any offence?"

Witnesses are not at risk of prosecution simply by being witnesses and the Minister's concern appeared to be the woman's "No" answer to that question was misleading, he said.

The court does not fully know what the phrase coming to "the attention of" gardaí means but it seemed to embrace a "radically wider" set of circumstances than the question whether she was ever subject of a Garda investigation here.

One could easily imagine circumstances where one would come to the attention of gardaí "and not be in any sense a person of less than good character".

The Minister had effectively flawed the woman for not answering a question she was not in fact asked and to which the Garda records indicated the correct answer was, in any event, "No".

The Garda report described the woman at all time as a "witness" to the 2007 incidents and this supported her approach to completing the application form, he said.

The first 2007 incident involved gardaí calling to the woman's house after receiving a report children were not being well treated by a woman there, he said. In doing so, gardaí were investigating whether that report was true or not and they recorded the woman as a witness in their report.

In the second instant, the woman herself called gardaí to the house because she thought she and her son were being subject to racist attacks. It did not appear her account of events was controverted and this could in no way be described as an "investigation" of her.

The Minister appeared to have counted against the woman that, having been described in the Garda report as a witness, she had answered "No" to the question whether she was ever subject to a Garda investigation here.

There was no basis for the Minister's finding she had failed to disclose relevant information or that her answers could afford a basis for the conclusion she was not of good character, he concluded.

More on this topic

Gardaí object to bail for manGardaí object to bail for man

'Important and trusted member' of organised crime gang jailed for carrying loaded gun'Important and trusted member' of organised crime gang jailed for carrying loaded gun

Judge fines 20 no-show motorists €212k for allegedly dodging M50 tollsJudge fines 20 no-show motorists €212k for allegedly dodging M50 tolls

Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death tells court fight was 'probably over something stupid'Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death tells court fight was 'probably over something stupid'

More in this Section

CervicalCheck patient support group welcome HSE's rapid reviewCervicalCheck patient support group welcome HSE's rapid review

Doubling amount of ethanol in petrol 'could reduce our carbon emissions'Doubling amount of ethanol in petrol 'could reduce our carbon emissions'

Man's life saved in dramatic rescue off Dublin BayMan's life saved in dramatic rescue off Dublin Bay

People urged 'that little bit more vigilant' when it comes wildfiresPeople urged 'that little bit more vigilant' when it comes wildfires


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner