Irish High Court overturns decision rejecting application for naturalisation based on father’s ‘bad character’

The Irish High Court has overturned a decision rejecting the application for naturalisation of a girl born in Ireland on the basis of her father’s prior criminal history.

The girl was born in Ireland in 2010 to two Moldovan parents. The mother alleged domestic abuse that forced her and her daughter into a refuge and resulted in a barring order. The father applied for naturalisation for himself in 2014, and for his daughter in 2016 while his application was still pending. In this application he included details of his criminal convictions, including for assault and public order offences. Both applications were refused based on the father’s criminal history, therefore the child brought judicial review proceedings seeking an order for certiorari quashing the decision of the Minister.

The High Court had to consider Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 which required that ‘the applicant’ be of good character. The Minister argued that a literal interpretation of the section suggested that ‘the applicant’ was the parent or guardian applying on behalf of the minor. Mr. Justice Keane in the High Court ruled that the interpretation most consistent with justice was that the applicant who must meet the conditions of naturalisation was the minor born within the State, rather than the parent making the application on their behalf.

The Court acknowledged that the section was ambiguous, and did not accept that there was an evident policy reason to link the good character of the parent or guardian who makes the application with that of the minor for the purposes of naturalisation. The Court therefore found that the Minister had erred in law and quashed the decision.

This case was taken by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Click here for the decision in Mihaela Iurescu v The Minister for Justice and Equality.

Click here for the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s press release.



Sustaining Partners