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    Enhance citizenship opportunities, says diaspora group

    By Noreen Bowden | July 21, 2009

    A new group has been set up on social networking site Ning.com to advocate for enhanced citizenship rights for the diaspora. The group, Irish Diaspora for Irish Citizenship, says the 1986 law that for the most part restricted citizenship based on descent to those with Irish-born parents or grandparents should be reversed.

    The group points to a number of reasons for restoring the rights of those with Irish-born great-grandparents. The economic argument probably most matches the Irish zeitgeist at the moment; one of the site founders, James Ryan McNelis, says that Ireland would have increased access to a highly-educated workforce and source of investment. There would also be a direct economic benefit through processing fees paid by new citizens, and he anticipates that new citizenship opportunities would result in increased tourism.

    The Strategic Review of Irish-US Relations, launched by the Taoiseach in March, does address the desire of some in the diaspora for enhanced citizenship opportunities. While it does not go so far as to suggest a reversal of the 1986 legislation, it does seek to broaden official recognition of Irish links, and proposes one narrow path for enhanced citizenship opportunities.

    Under current law, Irish citizenship is no longer available for the great majority of Americans of Irish ancestry. Conscious of the need to keep our ties strong with this entire ancestral group, both now and in the future, we should look at ways of encouraging and facilitating people, who are not entitled to citizenship, to give expression to their Irish ancestry. One such measure could be a new certificate of Irish ancestry which, while having no legal standing as such, would constitute official recognition for many people of their familial and emotional connection with Ireland.

    Consideration could also be given to establishing a fast track naturalisation regime for those with Irish great-grandparents who, although not eligible for citizenship by virtue of descent, have demonstrated a particular affinity with Ireland having spent time in Ireland as students, with the time, or a portion of the time spent in Ireland as a student, exceptionally counting towards residency in Ireland requirements of the naturalisation process.

    This issue was also raised last year, when an Irish-American journalist wrote to the Irish Times calling for the opportunity to relocate to Ireland; she, too, was too many generations away from Ireland to qualify for citizenship.

    In any case, with so many initiatives proposed to enhance greater engagement with the global Irish community, it seems likely that this is an issue that will continue to be of interest.

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    Topics: Latest News | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses to “Enhance citizenship opportunities, says diaspora group”

    1. lorcan Says:
      July 30th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      France operates a fast-track system for graduates of French universities. I’m sure there are many more examples.

    2. This Week’s Headlines « Irish Fireside Says:
      August 1st, 2009 at 9:45 am

      […] group calls for extension of Irish citizenship to those with Irish great-grandparents: http://www.ean.ie/2009/enhance-citizenship-opportunities-says-diaspora-group (via […]

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