Irish Supreme Court quashes refusal by Department of Justice to provide adequate reasons in citizenship case

Irish Supreme Court quashes refusal by Department of Justice to provide adequate reasons in citizenship case

CategoryNews Author Matthias Kelly QC Date

The Supreme Court in Dublin on 31st May 2019 quashed a refusal by the Minister for Justice to grant Irish citizenship to a man based on “national security” grounds. Matthias Kelly QC SC led the legal team in the successful challenge.

In a landmark decision, the five-judge court unanimously held that the Minister had not justified his failure to give the man, from a non-EU country, any reasons or information concerning the refusal beyond saying it was due to “national security” considerations. The Supreme Court directed the Minister to reconsider the matter via an “enhanced” process in line with the court’s findings.

That process may well be by way of an assessment by an independent person as to whether any additional information relied upon by the Department of Justice in refusing a naturalisation application should be provided to an applicant in a similar case. The Supreme Court declined to specify what procedure the State should use, pointing out that under the constitution it was for the executive arm of the state to legislate.

The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Clarke said: “It is not, of course, for the Court to be prescriptive as to the precise form of any process which should be put in place. It is, however, for the Court to assess whether it would be possible to put in place measures which would interfere to a lesser extent with the entitlement of a person such as Mr. P. to more detailed reasons.” He added “that it has not been demonstrated that the process followed in this case minimised Mr. P.’s entitlement to reasons to the minimum extent necessary and I would, therefore, quash the decision of the Minister on such grounds.”

The man who brought the case cannot be identified by order of the court. The appellant had resided lawfully in Ireland for 29 years, as a law-abiding and upstanding resident. He was granted refugee status by Ireland in 1991, and remains a declared refugee, lawfully residing in Ireland. He had six applications for naturalisation refused, without being provided with any meaningful reason. That had the result that he had no idea what the reason is. That, in turn, meant he could not address whatever information the State relied upon.

Following earlier proceedings which successfully challenged a refusal naturalisation in 2013, the High Court ruled in 2014 he was entitled to inspect parts of documents held by the State concerning his background and said the State should provide more detailed reasons for refusing to grant him naturalisation.

P V Minister for Justice and Equality [2019] IESC 47

See here for a link to the full judgment.

Related Barristers

Legal updates

Subscribe to our newsletters, updates and seminars.


Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

Barrister portfolio


Click the + icon next to any barrister to add their profile to this portfolio.

Barrister Call CV Email