Six hundred Irish become Australian citizens on Australia Day
Almost 4,000 Irish became citizens last year, four times the 2009 figure
Ollie Gordon from Easkey in Co Sligo, now director at TradeConnex Construction & Labour Hire in Sydney, became an Australian citizen last year.
Six hundred Irish people pledged allegiance to become Australian citizens today.
Special Australia Day citizenship ceremonies took place in more than 400 locations around Australia, where 16,000 people from 150 countries took the oath.
Ceremonies were hosted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, local government councils, and sporting associations.
Australia Day on January 26th marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first British fleet in Sydney harbour in 1788. More people become citizens on Australia Day than on any other day of the year.
The number of Irish people becoming Australian citizens has risen sharply in recent years. In the 12 months to June 2016, a total of 3,943 Irish nationals became Australian citizens, up from 3,092 the previous year, and just 903 in 2009.
To be eligible to apply, 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”.
Organisations working with Irish communities in Australia have recently observed an increase in the number of Irish people who are applying for citizenship before moving back to Ireland to live.
Liz O’Hagan, co-ordinator of the Claddagh Association in Perth, has said people are applying for citizenship as a “safety net” in case things don’t work out when they return to Ireland, and they want to move back to Australia.
The number of Irish moving to Australia has plummeted in the past two years as the Australian economy has tightened and Irish unemployment continues to fall. Just 6,200 went in the year to April 2016, according to the Irish Central Statistics Office, down from a peak of 18,200 in 2012. The numbers moving in the other direction, from Australia to Ireland, have almost doubled in just 12 months, to 5,500.