Residency application proposals explained

 

There will be no "blanket" granting of permission to remain in the State for the non-national parents of children born in Ireland under the revised application arrangements announced by the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell.

The Minister of State, Mr Brendan Smith, told Labour's justice spokesman, Mr Joe Costello, that Mr McDowell hoped to introduce the arrangements after the enactment of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill, which has not yet been signed by President McAleese. If permission is granted, it will be for two years initially. Then, if applicants prove that they are law-abiding and economically viable, they will be allowed to stay for a further three years, when they will be entitled to apply for Irish citizenship.

Mr Costello said that the number of asylum-seekers was rapidly diminishing - down from 6,758 in the first 10 months of 2003 to 3,443 in the same period this year. It was not known how many cases were involved and whether they would "all be tossed into the pool again to be processed". The system was slow and expensive and had cost up to €353 million last year.

The number of cases will be known by the end of March 2005, the deadline for applications.

Applicants will have to give details if they have used other identities while in the State. "Before granting permission to remain, the Minister wants to be sure that an applicant has not been involved in criminal activity and is of good character," Mr Smith said. The identity of each applicant would have to be established and they would be required to supply a passport from their country of origin. "If a potential applicant does not have one, he or she should take the necessary steps to acquire one as soon as possible," he added.

Mr Smith warned that applications would not be accepted from "persons who are abroad or who have not been ordinarily resident in the State". Applicants will also have to sign a statutory declaration that they do not expect any other person, whether a relative or not, to be allowed to enter the State.