Citizenship applications of frontline workers must be urgently fast-tracked

18 January 2021

Labour spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik, has called on the Minister for Justice to fast-track Irish citizenship for the many frontline workers who have been the backbone of the health system throughout the pandemic. As many non-EU citizens continue to work on Ireland’s frontline, Bacik has reiterated the importance of speeding up this process.

Senator Bacik said: “The announcement made by the Department of Justice today that 4,000 people will have the opportunity to finish their citizenship process by the end of March is welcome. However, this will not address the frustrations of an additional 20,000 people who are still waiting for their applications to be processed, including healthcare and frontline workers.

"The Minister’s announcement of this statutory declaration will remove delays in the system to the benefit of some healthcare and other frontline workers. However, I am calling on the Minister to implement a review of any legal change that may be required to process outstanding applications relating to our frontline workers.  

"The Government must urgently introduce a scheme to fast-track citizenship applications for the many frontline workers who have held our health system together throughout the course of the pandemic. Healthcare workers and their family members who meet all citizenship requirements and have lived in Ireland the requisite time should have their applications expedited in recognition of their vital work throughout the pandemic.

“Research published by the Train Us for Ireland group, which represents approx. 200 non-European healthcare workers, highlights the continued delays faced by our frontline heroes. It’s research found that nearly 64% of foreign healthcare workers surveyed had been waiting at least 12 months for a response on their citizenship applications, while over a third were waiting over a year.

“Reviewing this data and listening to the concerns highlighted by these workers, I would query the delay in implementing a scheme to take effective action for this cohort. Similar schemes have been introduced in other countries, including France and Canada, in recognition of the immense personal sacrifices made by so many who have put themselves at risk every day to provide vital health and social care services throughout this pandemic.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the individuals and families in our own communities who have made such sacrifices. The Labour Party is calling on the Government to back up our appreciation with action. Let’s fast-track citizenship for them now.”