Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Seán Fleming has called on the Department of Justice to confirm that people applying for citizenship will not be at a disadvantage if they apply for the COVID-19 pandemic payment.
Ordinarily, he said citizenship can only be granted if a person can prove they are not a burden on the social welfare system of the state.
“In filling out an application form for citizenship a person must be truthful. They have to confirm if they have ever been in receipt of social welfare payment. It is a criminal offence to give false information on a citizenship application.
“The Department of Justice must clarify whether they will consider a person who has received the COVID-19 pandemic payment as a ‘financial burden’ on the state.
“The Department of Social Protection missed the point entirely when they confirmed that they have no plans to share data with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) or the Department of Justice. Not sharing information is not the issue.
“Like hundreds of thousands of people, there are many citizenship applicants who have been temporarily laid off as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A standard rule is that you can’t be a financial burden on the state if you want to get citizenship.
“Many applicants are desperately worried that their application may be set back if they receive the COVID-19 pandemic payment.
“These are unprecedented times and I don’t believe anyone should be punished for being temporarily laid off. The COVID-19 pandemic payment is a social welfare payment like no other, it is a short-term measure designed to keep people financially afloat until the economy gets moving again. In this context, citizenship applicants in receipt of the COVID-19 pandemic payment should not be disadvantaged as a result of receiving the COVID-19 payment,” he concluded.