Immigrant Council calling on Government to address issue of stateless people in Ireland
The Immigrant Council today is calling on the Government to address the long-neglected issue of stateless people in Ireland by implementing legislation to provide a legal definition of a stateless person and provide for an established Statelessness Determination Procedure to easily identify stateless individuals and secure their fundamental rights.
The call comes as the annual Statelessness Index was launched today by the European Network of Statelessness (ENS) showing Ireland continues to fail in meeting international standards for providing legal framework to protect stateless people and does not have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent and reduce statelessness from occurring through legal gaps.
The Statelessness Index assesses the performance of European countries against international standards in protecting stateless people and preventing and reducing statelessness from occurring, highlighting gaps in law, policy and practice around statelessness in order to raise awareness about stateless issues and encourage advocacy to reform laws and practices.
Due to a number of reasons, Ireland has received significant criticism on its handling of stateless issues in the index, incuding:
- Ireland’s lack of a definition for stateless people in law, as well as a lack of an official Statelessness Determination Procedure despite being party to the 1954 and 1961 UN conventions. Ireland has yet to incorporate these conventions into national law resulting in a longstanding lack of process addressing stateless people in Ireland.
- The lack of Determination Procedure means there is no established procedure to recognise someone as stateless in order for them to be easily and swiftly granted residency and/or access vital public services.
- There are no formal practices, guidance or training provided to Government and public service bodies on how statelessness claims should be addressed, nor any direction given to stateless individuals on how to be recognised as such.
- Significantly, there is also a lack of concrete data on the extent of statelessness affecting individuals in Ireland. The 2016 census reported 1,167 people self-identifying as having “no nationality.”
Ireland has also been criticised for its lack of safeguards preventing statelessness through the revocation of Irish citizenship. A 2020 judgment from the Supreme Court of Ireland however strongly criticised the current approach by the Department of Justice in leaving revocation largely to the discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality, calling for stronger procedural safeguards to be applied in any situation where the revocation of Irish nationality is being considered.
Ireland does however earn some praise in the index for its practice of not detaining stateless people by default, as is the case in many other countries. There are also safeguards in place to prevent statelessness at birth in many cases: Children born in Ireland to stateless parents are awarded Irish citizenship at birth; Irish law also prevents statelessness in the case of foundlings, adopted children and children born abroad to Irish nationals.