Some 4,000 people applying for Irish citizenship can now complete their naturalisation process through a temporary system opened by the justice minister today.
A statutory declaration of loyalty can now be signed by applicants, to be witnessed by a designated official, which will replace the requirement to attend citizenship ceremonies which were suspended during Covid-19.
Concerns about the halted system, with its significant backlog of cases, had been raised, particularly by healthcare workers.
It is expected that 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have had an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March, the Department of Justice said.
Although more than 24,000 citizenship applications have been made, approximately 4,000 are ceremony-ready or in the final processing stages.
In-person citizenship ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to return in December.
Minister Helen McEntee said: “The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. I am 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.
"The process I am opening today means that certificates can now be granted again, once the signed and witnessed statutory declaration and relevant fee has been received by my department.
“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.”
Under the temporary new system, qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email from the citizenship division of the Department of Justice, and bring it to one of the listed designated officials.
The designated official must witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration.
The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee, and any other requested documentation to the department’s citizenship division.
Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, which will be signed by the minister, will be sent to the applicant.