We've had many inquiries as to whether there is an update to our potential challenge of Ireland's citizenship laws on behalf of great grandchildren. As a reminder, under the current laws, only grandchildren of folks born in Ireland are eligible to apply for Irish citizenship (registration on the Foreign Births Registry). Those with parents born in Ireland, are eligible to bypass the citizenship application and apply for an Irish passport. Those with a great grandparent born in Ireland are not eligible to apply for Irish citizenship unless his/her parent registered their own birth prior to the birth of the child (the great grandchild of the person born in Ireland) or prior to July 1, 1986. We had spoken with attorneys in Ireland regarding our argument that great grandchildren should be eligible to apply regardless of when his/her parent obtained citizenship.
Unfortunately, there has been no update regarding our potential challenge. As noted in the past, we have made efforts to obtain a full legal analysis by Irish attorneys evaluate the likelihood of succeeding on such a challenge, and to determine the process and cost of a challenge in a court in Dublin. Several of our clients are currently evaluating whether they'd like to engage in an agreement with the attorneys to procure the full legal opinion. We will continue to post any updates that become available. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates.
In the meantime, we also continue our efforts to change the citizenship laws by engaging in discussions on this matter with Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs. Ireland has been promoting a campaign to strengthen the ties between it and the U.S., and it is our position that allowing great grandchildren to apply for dual citizenship would enhance that bond. It is our belief and hope that the issue will be considered by Ireland's leaders after Brexit and its implications have been responded to and settled a bit.
This blog is intended to explain how our company, or anyone else, may use a genealogist's research in beginning the Irish citizenship application process. We essentially hope to warn folks that hiring a genealogist to trace your Irish roots may be unnecessary to this process.
Clients that come to us for help in beginning the Irish citizenship application process fall among a large spectrum in terms of the information they may have regarding their Irish heritage. On one end are the folks who know every detail about a grandparent's birth - date, location, father's name, mother's maiden name, and every detail of other life events. On the other end, we've had many clients who wish to apply through a grandmother, for example, but they do not even know their grandmother's maiden name. However, even with this limited information, we are able to find the grandmother's maiden name and other important information that will allow us to obtain the grandmother's Irish birth record and all other required records for an applicant's Irish citizenship application.
Somewhere along the spectrum is a category of folks who hired a genealogist, some for thousands of dollars, before coming to us. We cannot blame them. They were motivated to find out information about their heritage, and who better to navigate that process than a genealogist, right? Genealogists can be extremely help, and we have even enlisted the help of a few genealogists in finding certain information. But please note that genealogists are not obtaining actual certified records for you. Sometimes they may send you a register listing an ancestor's birth or marriage, and provide interesting pieces of information regarding the town where your ancestor lived or was born. They may even find the correct parents' names of your grandparent, or date and location of birth, which is helpful. However, if you are not sure of your grandparent's date or location of birth, or their parents' names, it's usually best to begin by obtaining other vital records that will list that information. Marriage and death records of a grandparent, while not always correct, serve as a better indicator of a grandparent's place of birth, approximate date of birth, and parents' names. It is often best to obtain another document that will give us information before moving forward in searching for a birth or baptismal record in Ireland.
This is true of folks who perform their own genealogy research on ancestry websites as well. We've had many, many clients come to us for help in obtaining a grandparent's Irish birth record. The information they have about the grandparent is based solely on information gathered from an ancestry website. For instance, they'll quickly find a Bridget Kelly born in County Mayo in 1896 and assume that is their grandmother. Then they give us that information (even when we caution against this practice) and we obtain the certified copy of Bridget Kelly's birth or baptismal record using that information. Once we have that record, we move forward in obtaining the other required records, which then makes it clear that we have the wrong Irish birth record! In this case, if we knew the client was not certain of his/her grandmother's birth details (approximate date, location, and parent's names), we would have obtained the grandmother's marriage or death record first so we could obtain that information, ensuring we were searching for the correct Irish birth or baptismal record.
This is the limitation we're referring to in using genealogists' research for this process. We rely more on the vital records because that is what the FBR office of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs will rely on in reviewing an applicant's citizenship application. Genealogists can be extremely helpful, but it is important to know the citizenship application process in using them!