Supreme Court to Decide Child’s Entitlement to Citizenship

Commission Appears as Amicus Curiae & Publishes Legal Arguments

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the ‘Commission’) has today appeared before the Supreme Court as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in an important citizenship and children’s rights case.

The case focuses on ‘UM’ who was born in Ireland and asserted Irish citizenship on the basis of his Afghan father’s residency in the country, as a refugee, prior to his birth. His father was granted refugee status in 2006. However the Department of Justice informed the father in August 2013 that the Minister was revoking his refugee status due to fraud.

UM, who was born before the revocation of his father’s refugee status, had his Irish passport application refused later on the basis that any residence derived from his father’s refugee grant could not be relied on for the purposes of UM’s assertion of citizenship.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case as it raises significant questions of the impact of retrospective application of a decision to revoke refugee status, and the impact of that decision on a child who is a citizen by birth, not having an Irish parent.

The legal submissions made by the Commission and published today argue that any decision, that retrospectively revokes refugee status of the parent, has grave and enduring consequences for the child, with the effect of depriving that child of Irish citizenship. The Commission argues that any decision that leads to a deprivation of that child’s citizenship must be subject to procedural safeguards and a proportionality assessment.

The Commission’s legal submission states: “Having regard to the very profound consequences that flow from revocation in any case, that to deem it to operate retrospectively, to the detriment of innocent family members whose status was derivative from the refugee, would require clear language from the Oireachtas. In the absence of a clear indication of intent by the Oireachtas that such revocations were intended to operate retrospectively, the section ought not to be interpreted in that way.”

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

This case examines the powers of the State to refuse to recognise a person’s Irish citizenship many years after that person asserted their citizenship by birth, and assesses if that power must be used in a proportionate manner.

 “The Commission believes that it is vital that the State gives fair consideration to the profound consequences for UM, an innocent third party, in revoking the refugee status of his father, and fair procedure dictates that this should have been clearly considered.”


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

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Editor’s Note

The legal submission made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Supreme Court in its amicus curiae role is available at the following link:

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.