A language test for new applicants for Irish citizenship is under consideration, a senior Department of Justice official said in Killarney, Co Kerry, where more than 3,500 people from more than 160 countries officially became Irish citizens.
Currently Ireland does not require new citizens to be proficient in either English or Irish and it is not decided if new requirements will stipulate either language.
The test which is at the early stages of discussion, would be introduced in the interests of better integration said assistant principal in the department Raymond Murray, as some people who have been residents for five years still were unable to speak English,
“The language test would be introduced on the basis of trying to ensure successful integration,” he said.
The numbers of people from Britain applying for citizenship has grown spectacularly since the Brexit vote, officials said. And yesterday among the 388 British people swearing allegiance to the Irish State was 93-year-old Claude Cooke, who served in the merchant navy during World War II in the P&O shipping lines on troop ships in north Africa and Sicily.
Mr Cooke, who held the rank of captain until his retirement, lives in Dublin. Romance had brought him to this country 20 years ago and he was still in a relationship with Dora Foster aged 90.
He said Brexit was a great disappointment to him. “I have been here for 20 years — I haven’t been back to the UK for four or five. Brexit was a disappointment,” Mr Cooke said.
He will now have dual citizenship. Some countries, such as India, do not allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship.
Software engineer Raza Naqui was with his nine-month-old son Jawwad, while his wife Kulsum obtained her citizenship. Both are from India and came to Ireland together seven years ago. Last year he became an Irish citizen.
“It’s really good. It makes a difference,” said Mr Naqui who lives in Dublin.
Candidates attending the ceremonies in the Gleneagle Hotel yesterday were given information packs which included the words to Amhrán na bhFiann and advice on how to register to vote and how to obtain an passport.
The central part of the short but solemn ceremony was led by retired High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon. Candidates stood around the convention centre and swore an oath of fidelity to the nation and to uphold its laws.
Mr Justice McMahon, the son and namesake of the late Listowel writer, said Ireland understood emigration better than most and he urged the new citizens of Ireland, not to forget their old countries or their old stories.
“This state does not require you to forget the country you come from or erase your personal histories. Do not forget your own country. Bring with you your songs, your music and your stories,” he advised them to a round of applause.
The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told candidates their new country was relatively young, but a place of culture where traditions are cherished and history is ever present.
“But it is also a place of openness and diversity,” he said, and urged the new citizens to “participate actively” in their communities.
Including minors, who are not required to attend a ceremony, the number of people granted Irish citizenship up to the end of last year is around 113,000 from 181 countries.
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