The legal and policy framework in Ireland has some positive aspects and some significant gaps. Although party to the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions, Ireland has not fully incorporated their provisions into domestic law, and it is not party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions. There is no definition of a stateless person in national law, and no dedicated statelessness determination procedure. The census collects some data on people who identify as having ‘no nationality’, but there are no reliable estimates for the size of the population affected by statelessness in Ireland.
Statelessness may be examined in the context of other immigration, international protection, or nationality related procedures, but there is no published guidance on how to make a claim nor how statelessness should be addressed by decision-makers. Stateless people may be granted a residence permit and the requirement to produce an identity document waived, but this may not be confirmed in writing and 1954 convention rights are not set out in law. There is a facilitated route to naturalisation for stateless people, but nationality may be refused if statelessness cannot be proven. Immigration detention is generally the exception rather than the norm in Ireland and stateless people are not routinely detained, but there are some gaps in legal protections to guarantee against their arbitrary detention.
Safeguards are in place to prevent statelessness at birth in some cases, but there are gaps in law and practice for some children born stateless on the territory. There is a lack of clarity about whether a child older than ‘new-born’ may be considered a foundling, and a risk that children born abroad to same-sex Irish parents may not be able to acquire nationality in all cases. Birth registration law and practice is generally good, but it is unclear how a child’s nationality may be determined if they are not entitled to apply for an Irish passport. There is also a lack of safeguards to prevent statelessness in all cases of revocation, renunciation, and loss of Irish nationality.
Catherine Cosgrave, Immigrant Council of Ireland