A legal ruling giving youngsters born in the EU the right to stay in a member country with their non-national parents could have major implications for Ireland, it was warned.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) welcomed the judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union which means Irish-born children should be able to remain in Ireland with their immigrant parents, who would also have the right to work.
ICI said the practice by the Department of Justice of refusing to give some parents of Irish children permission to live and work in this country must end as its immigration policies breach European law.
Hilkka Becker, ICI’s senior solicitor, warned while the case centred on a family in Belgium, the ruling would have major implications for Ireland.
She demanded that parents already deported must be allowed to return.
“Put simply, what this means in practice is that Irish children have a right to live with their parents in Ireland and for their parents to work and provide for them within the state,” Ms Becker said.
“No longer will families be allowed to be separated unless there is a truly exceptional reason.
“The Immigrant Council has worked with many families separated by our immigration rules and suffering real anguish and financial hardship as a result.
“We are delighted with this ruling.”
The judgment in the case of the Zambrano family ruled EU law precludes a member state from refusing a right of residence.`
The Department of Justice said the case was a complex issue and that the judgment was being studied.
A spokeswoman said while it would be premature to draw any definitive conclusions, it imposed no changes in respect of eligibility for Irish citizenship and has no impact on the 2004 citizenship referendum.
“Zambrano was about the rights of children who are EU citizens by virtue of their citizenship of a member state,” she added.
“It remains a matter for individual member states to confer that citizenship in accordance with their national laws.”