Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has called for the immediate reopening of the Foreign Birth Registration (FBR) application process with the necessary resources to deal with a backlog of over 31,000 applications.
The FBR process covers applications by Irish citizens to have children born abroad registered as Irish citizens.
Teachta Brady said:
“The Minister for Foreign Affairs bears ultimate responsibility and obligation to the tens of thousands of Irish citizens for the registration of their children under the FBR process.
“In ordinary times, applicants under the FBR application process have faced waiting times of approximately 18 months.
“This in itself placed an inordinate strain on applicants. But with the advent of Brexit, compounded by Covid-19, department estimates on the time it takes to process an application has been extended to two years.
“Anecdotal evidence from applicants suggest that waiting times are even longer. The FBR application process has been closed since March 2020, from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I have been in communication with the Minister, and there is currently no set date to reopen the process.
“Meanwhile we have a backlog of over 31,000 that is growing every day.
“Some of these children are stuck in war zones, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to name just a few. They are unable to travel to Ireland until issued with Irish passports.
“Others have been left in limbo overseas, with families left without legal classification to allow them to access local and national services.
“The continued closure inordinately affects pregnant women and mothers, who are legally disadvantaged by delays. Along with individuals resident in the state attempting to access funding for third level education.
“There are many others within the Irish diaspora who have had to part with significant legal fees to claim their right to Irish citizenship through descent.
“The Foreign Birth Registration application process needs to be reopened immediately, and the minister needs to ensure that his department is given the resources that it needs to fulfil his obligations.”