"Family reunification" is one aspect of the immigration system run by the Department of Justice. Under existing procedures, refugees, immigrants given residency here and Irish citizens who have non-Irish family members (such as a spouse or a spouse's children from a prevous relationship) can apply to have their immediate family join them in Ireland. The report documents a number of extraordinary cases where people were refused permission to have their non-Irish spouses or children join them in Ireland, despite providing evidence of their family relationships and of having sufficient finances to support them.
In one case, a refugee couple who were naturalised as Irish citizens were subsequently refused permission to have their under-18 daughter join them in Ireland, despite the fact that refugees have a statutory right to family reunification. There is no statutory provision granting Irish citizens a right to have non-Irish family members join them in Ireland.
Clement (not his real name) and his wife were granted asylum in Ireland and applied for family reunification with their 13-year-old daughter, who had remained in their home country. They were initially refused on the basis of not having enough money to support their daughter. They appealed this decision, and in the meantime applied to be naturalised as Irish citizens. They were granted citizenship and, two years after lodging their appeal for family reunification, their appeal was refused – because, in being granted Irish citizenship, they lost their entitlement to reunify with their child, according to the report.
Peter O'Mahoney of the Irish Refugee Council said the situation whereby a refugee who has taken out Irish citizenship lost the right to family reunification was "absurd and idiotic".
The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said the issue of family reunification rights for Irish citizens would be addressed in the context of forthcoming immigration legislation.