18 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
In order to become a citizen of Ireland, you now need a Commissioner for Oaths to witness you signing the ‘Oath of Fidelity’
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today opened a temporary system which will enable citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty by visiting a Commissioner for Oaths.
This replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19. Prior to this, citizenship ceremonies took place in Killarney.
Minister McEntee said:
“The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. I am pleased that we can now bring some certainty to the people whose applications have effectively been on hold during the pandemic.
“Approximately 4,000 applicants have not been able to receive a certificate of naturalisation due to the temporary suspension of citizenship ceremonies. The process I am opening today means that certificates can now be granted again, once the signed and witnessed statutory declaration and relevant fee has been received by my Department.
“A significant number of healthcare and other frontline workers who have made extraordinary contributions during the pandemic will benefit from these new arrangements over the coming weeks and months.”
Under the temporary new system, qualifying applicants will be asked to receive a statutory declaration by email from the Citizenship Division of the Department of Justice. They can print it, and signed it in front of a Commissioner for Oaths. The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation back to the Department’s Citizenship Division.
Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, which will be signed by the Minister, will be sent to the applicant.
The new system will be in place from today – Monday, 18 January 2021 – and the Department of Justice will communicate with applicants regarding the requirements on a phased basis over the next few months until in-person citizenship ceremonies are able to recommence.
It is expected that the 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have been provided with an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March.
Here in Cork, David O’Sullivan Commissioner for Oaths is open until 7pm weekdays, and he runs a convenient travelling service. He can be contacted on 087 900 4346 or at www.CommissionerForOaths.ie
Facts and figures
There are currently in excess of 24,000 citizenship applications on hand including approximately 4,000 that are ceremony ready or in the final processing stages. Waiting until large in-person citizenship ceremonies could take place again is not an option as many applicants would have their opportunity to be made Irish citizens postponed for an indefinite period of time through no fault of their own.
Last October, the Minister instructed her officials to urgently put in place the necessary arrangements in accordance with the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 to make provision, as a temporary measure while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, for applicants for a certificate of naturalisation to make the declaration and undertaking required under section 15(1)(e) of the 1956 Act by way of a statutory declaration, witnessed by a person of legal standing, as laid out in Statutory Instrument 569 of 2011.
The necessary arrangements are now in place and from 18 January 2021, the Department of Justice will communicate with applicants, on a phased basis over the coming months, outlining the necessary steps to complete their naturalisation process and details of the temporary measure will be available on the citizenship website.