225. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if efforts are being made to ease the high costs faced by UK citizens who have lived and worked here for decades when they are applying for Irish citizenship which they need in order to apply for an Irish passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25011/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
The fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011).
The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is set at €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil.
As such, the Regulations make specific provision for particular categories of applicants who may be on a reduced level of income. There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, or based on length of residency.
The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.
The fees charged should be viewed in the context of the significant benefits attendant to securing an Irish passport, particularly in the context of visa free travel to other jurisdictions.
Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on the INIS website at ww.inis.gov.ie.