Immigration rights for gay couples - unless one of them is Irish

On another matter, I see that Michael McDowell has finally signed into law an EU directive on freedom of movement which obliges him to allow the non-EU partner (married or otherwise) of an EU citizen to take up residence here.

This is good news.

However, there's a curious anomaly here which needs to be rectified. "EU citizen" in this context means "citizen of an EU country other than Ireland". Irish citizens are still denied the right to be accompanied by their non-EU partner. How does this make any sense?

This is not the only situation in which this anomaly occurs. Currently, an application for residency on the basis of marriage to an EU citizen (other than a citizen of Ireland) must be processed within six months. Another EU directive, you see. However, Irish citizen marriages are not subject to this directive. Their spouse's application will take approximately 14 months to process.

This is lunacy.

It gets worse. During this processing time, the noncitizen spouse is not allowed to work without a work permit - which are practically impossible for nonskilled workers to obtain these days. However, if the couple are forced to avail of social welfare during this period, the same Minister will use this fact to deny a citizenship application filed by the non-EU spouse, on the grounds that they have been a burden on society. I'm not making this up - we have written confirmation of this from the Minister.

The Minister also says that one of the requirements to grant residency is that the couple are living together. But how are they supposed to do that before he grants the non-EU spouse residency?

It's just one of many examples of how messed up the immigration system here is. It needs fixing as a matter of urgency.

The immediate introduction of legislation or a statutory instrument, as necessary, to put Irish citizens on the same level as non-Irish EU citizens would be a good start.

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