Iraqi-born hurler among 1,000 new Irish citizens welcomed at virtual ceremony

Iraqi-born hurler among 1,000 new Irish citizens welcomed at virtual ceremony

Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne and Zak Moradi, a new Irish citizen.

An Iraqi-born hurler was among 1,000 new Irish citizens welcomed at a virtual ceremony hosted by the Minister of Justice on Tuesday evening. 

Live streamed from Croke Park, the virtual event featured a range of performances and contributions from some of Ireland’s newest citizens, as well as from the Garda Band.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys acknowledged that “for many” the road to Irish citizenship is a long one and thanked attendees for "sticking with us."

The minister also noted that by sharing their own unique cultures and traditions with us, Ireland’s newest citizens have made Irish communities “richer." 

Ireland’s newest citizens have received certificates of naturalisation as part of a temporary system which enables applicants to sign a statutory declaration of loyalty to the State.

Since the temporary statutory declaration process opened in January of this year, over 6,500 people have been given the opportunity to complete their Irish citizenship and over 4,400 people have received their certificates of naturalisation.

Zak Moradi helped Leitrim scoop the Lory Meagher Cup
Zak Moradi helped Leitrim scoop the Lory Meagher Cup

Among the new citizens logging on for tonight's ceremony was Zak Moradi.

Mr Moradi was born in what he describes as "no-man's land" - a refugee camp in Iraq. He moved to Leitrim almost two decades ago when he was 11.

He made headlines back in 2019 when he helped the county scoop the Lory Meagher Cup.

Holding his letter of naturalisation, he said, "This document means everything to me, it says where I belong. 

"This is my country."

It is the first time the 30-year-old has held his own passport.

"It's great to be Irish and it's great to be Kurdish," he said.

Minister of State James Browne, who also spoke at the event, said it is a cause of celebration for the country as a whole.

“Throughout our history, Irish people have left these shores to make their homes elsewhere and because of that we have a deep and meaningful understanding of what it means to belong somewhere.

“Becoming an Irish citizen is a moment to cherish, both for new citizens themselves and also for their families and friends, and we are privileged to live in a country that people adopt as their chosen home.”

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