Over 24,000 Irish become Australian citizens in past decade

Further 455 more to pledge allegiance on Australia Day this Saturday

More than 15,000 people of all nationalities will be granted Australian citizenship on Australia Day this Saturday. Photograph: iStock

More than 15,000 people of all nationalities will be granted Australian citizenship on Australia Day this Saturday. Photograph: iStock

 

More than 24,000 Irish people have become Australian citizens in the past 10 years.

Between July 2008 and December 2018, 24,426 Irish nationals have been granted Australian citizenship, according to figures from the country’s Department of Home Affairs.

A further 455 will pledge allegiance to Australia and be conferred citizenship at special Australia Day ceremonies this Saturday.

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first British fleet in Sydney harbour on January 26th, 1788. The marking of Australia Day on this date has become increasingly controversial in recent years, especially among indigenous Australians.

Citizenship ceremonies are a central part of official Australia Day celebrations, with more people becoming citizens on this day than any other day of the year. More than 15,000 people of all nationalities will be conferred citizenship this Saturday.

The number of Irish people becoming Australian citizens rose sharply post-2012, though the figures have fallen back again in the past year. In the 12 months to last June, a total of 2,673 Irish nationals became Australian citizens, down from 4,313 the previous year, but still much higher than the 903 figure in 2008-09.

To be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship, immigrants must have lived in Australia for at least four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident. They must also “be of good character”, and “intend to live or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia”.

Applicants aged between 18 and 60 must also attend an interview and complete a citizenship test, to assess their English language skills and their knowledge of Australia.

“Becoming a citizen of Australia is the final legal step in your migration story,” according to the Department of Home Affairs, and it comes with many benefits: all citizens can apply for an Australian passport, leave and re-enter Australia as often as they please, receive consular assistance abroad, vote in elections and referendums, seek election to parliament (though only if they revoke their citizenship of other countries), and register their children as Australian citizens.

It is 70 years this year since the introduction of Australian citizenship into law. The first ceremony took place at Albert Hall in Canberra on February 3rd, 1949, when seven people from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia, each representing a different state in Australia (as well as the Australian Capital Territory), became citizens.

More than half of the 74,895 Irish-born people living in Australia on census day in August 2016 had Australian citizenship.

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