This afternoon, Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee TD, hosted one of the world’s first virtual citizenship ceremonies.
This pilot event was attended by 21 applicants who had opted not to attend the ceremonies that took place on 2 and 3 March in the INEC in Killarney, Co Kerry, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Welcoming the candidates for citizenship to the virtual ceremony, Minister McEntee said:
"Becoming a citizen of one’s country goes to the essence of our democracy and constitutional principles – principles which I as a Minister of this government have the honour to uphold. I extend a warm welcome to you, the candidates, who will shortly become Ireland’s newest citizens. Together with your family and friends we join with you in celebrating this major event in your life."
Virtual ceremonies are shorter than traditional in-person ceremonies, while still ensuring legal requirements are met. Ceremonies performed online continue to include integrity measures, such as identity checks. Presiding Officer retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon was also in attendance and addressed the candidates, before administering the Oath of Fidelity to the Nation.
The restrictions imposed due to the public health crisis represented by the COVID 19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the full citizenship ceremonies scheduled for July this year.
In light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and public health advice on the holding of indoor events, department staff have been working to identify a viable, alternative method of delivery for citizenship ceremonies. It was important that any alternative would protect the safety and wellbeing of candidates and staff, while ensuring the event reflects the dignity and solemnity appropriate to such a milestone event in our new citizens’ lives.
Citizenship ceremonies were first introduced in 2011 in order to mark the occasion of the granting of citizenship in a dignified and solemn manner. Since citizenship ceremonies were first introduced, there has been a total of 151 ceremonies with people from over 180 countries receiving their certificates of naturalisation. To date, including minors, approximately 132,000 people have received Irish citizenship, since 2011.
A review of today’s pilot ceremony will take place over the coming days and, if the pilot is deemed successful, this will provide an avenue by which applicants can be conferred with Citizenship over the coming months.
Today’s event is one of the very first virtual citizenship ceremonies in the world, and we believe the first virtual ceremony within Europe. The assistance of David Brandt Studios and NUI Galway was key in the delivery of today’s virtual ceremonies.
There are 21 applicants due to attend the ceremony, including 2 married couples.
10 applicants are from the UK, 3 from China, 2 from Poland, and one from Lebanon, Thailand, Russia, Romania, India and Brazil.
The oldest applicant is 84 and the youngest is 26. 9 of the applicants are aged over 70.
There are 12 female and 9 male applicants attending.