State pays €1.2m to settle cases with non-EU parents


THE GOVERNMENT has paid almost €1.2 million in settlement costs in cases involving non-EU parents of Irish-citizen children following a landmark ruling made last year by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In what is known as the Zambrano ruling, the European court held that non-EU parents of EU citizen children had to be allowed to live and work in the state where their children held citizenship.

A schedule of costs released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) reveals that the State paid €1,197,764 in 96 cases involving citizen children that came before the Irish courts, with an average settlement of just under €12,500.

Since the FOI request was made in July a further eight cases have been settled, costs for which are not included in the €1.2 million figure.

A further 20 cases are outstanding before the High Court while seven cases are still before the Supreme Court.

Cases relate to individual applicants, meaning that the two parents of an Irish-citizen child would be counted as two separate cases.

Figures released by the Department of Justice show that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice has received 2,100 individual applications to date from the non-EU citizens of Irish-born children applying to remain in the State on foot of the Zambrano ruling.

Of the decisions that have been processed by the department so far, 1,184 individuals have received permission to remain in Ireland.

A further 84 applications have been refused, while about 800 decisions are outstanding.

The applications have been received from immigrants who came to the State for work or study, as well as failed asylum seekers.

In January, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told the Dáil that six individuals who had previously left the State on foot of a deportation order were later granted visas to re-enter Ireland on foot of the Zambrano ruling.

However, when asked to provide up-to-date figures on the number of individuals who were granted visas to re-enter Ireland, a spokeswoman for the department said its records did not allow for the identification of applicants who had previously been deported.

The 2011 Zambrano ruling by the European court was made following a test case brought by two Colombian nationals, Ruiz Zambrano and his wife, who were refused asylum in Belgium despite having two Belgian-born children.

The court found that the state could not refuse a non-EU national the right to live and work in an EU state where doing so would deprive his or her minor children the enjoyment of their rights as EU citizens.