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Citizenship and immigration policy

Immigration (and not asylum) has been the main driver of a rising population

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott
The Irish Times - Letters to the Editor.

Sir, – The happy faces of the 5,500 people conferred with Irish citizenship on Thursday made for a joyous sight in a troubled world. However, the thought hits me that it might be time to review the 1956 Citizenship Act as, other than amendments in 2001 and 2004 (on foot of a referendum result), the main Act has remained unchanged while immigration levels have soared.

Immigration (and not asylum) has been the main driver of the Irish population rising from 3.8 million in 2000 to our current 5.1 million, with the Government decision to sign up to free movement in May 2004 when the EU expanded by 10 states, resulting in roughly 200,000 new arrivals in the following four years. Currently we are at or very close to full employment, with the result that over 40,000 work permits are being issued annually, as well as roughly 200,000 visas of various types, from student, to spouse, to family reunification.

Given that applying for Irish citizenship currently requires five out of the previous nine years of reckonable residence (and only three if a recognised refugee), it may well be time to review the criteria as an exponential increase in both new citizens and the general population is highly likely otherwise. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.