By Aileen Gittens

Proposed Changes to Citizenship Acts for children born to Irish parents through DAHR or Surrogacy

Changes proposed to Citizenship Acts to allow citizenship for children born to Irish parents through DAHR or surrogacy.

An important amendment to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2004 (as amended) (the “Citizenship Acts”) has been proposed in the Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022.

The proposed legislation commenced Committee Stage this week and is expected to be enacted this year. The Select Committee on Health will consider a plethora of committee stage amendments which have been proposed by Government and which include an amendment to the Citizenship Acts.  

The amendment to the Citizenship Acts proposes to insert a new “section 11A” into the Citizenship Acts which includes a new definition of “parent”, and would provide that an Irish citizen parent through Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR) or surrogacy, who has received a Declaration or Parentage or a Parental Order in Ireland, would for the first time be permitted to pass their Irish citizenship to their child.

It is proposed as follows:

  • That a “Parent” in the Citizenship Acts shall include a person who is, under section 5 of the Child and Family Relationships Act 2015 (the “CFRA Act”), a parent of a child born in the State. This is a parent of a child born as a result of a DAHR procedure, as defined in the CFRA Act. 
  • Where an Irish citizen is declared under sections 21 or 22 of the CFRA Act to be a parent of a child, the child, if not already an Irish citizen, shall be an Irish citizen from the date on which the declaration is made. This relates to parents declared to be “a parent” by the Irish Courts where a child is born in the State through DAHR, or where the DAHR occurred inside or outside the State in specific circumstances, before 4th May 2020 (when the relevant provisions in the CFRA Act were commenced).
  • Where an Irish citizen is granted a Parental Order, within the meaning of the new Act, in respect of their child, the child, if not already an Irish citizen, shall be an Irish citizen from the date on which the Parental Order is granted. This relates to parents declared to be a parent by the Irish Courts, where a child is born as a result of surrogacy. 
  • The above provisions are proposed to apply in respect of children born before or after the commencement of the provision.

The effect of the proposed amendments, if enacted, would be significant for many Irish parents through DAHR or surrogacy and their children.

Section 7(1) of the Citizenship Acts currently provides that a person is an Irish citizen from birth if at the time of his or her birth either parent was an Irish citizen or would if alive have been an Irish citizen.

Section 7(1) therefore limits the passing of citizenship in circumstances where a parent is recognised by the State to be the parent “from birth”. This has meant that Irish citizens who have received a declaration of parentage or a parental order, confirming their status as parents of their children from the date of the declaration of parentage or a parental order, have not been able to pass their Irish citizenship to their child.

The proposed amendments would allow many Irish citizen parents, who have become parents through DAHR or surrogacy, to pass their Irish citizenship to their children in the same way as Irish citizen parents who are recognised as parents to their children from birth (e.g. a couple who have conceived naturally) are entitled to. The entitlement would apply to children born before or after the commencement of the new section 11A.  

The proposed amendment follows a somewhat similar provision which was introduced in 2010 providing for Irish citizenship of a child adopted by an Irish citizen. Section 11 of the Citizenship Acts provides that a child adopted by an Irish citizen (or by the spouse of an Irish citizen, if married), shall be an Irish citizen, upon an adoption order, within the meaning of the Adoption Act 2010, being made.

The proposed amendment is limited to those who have obtained a declaration of parentage or a parental order. Accordingly Irish citizens who are not in a position to obtain a declaration of parentage or a parental order in respect of their child would not be eligible to pass Irish citizenship to their child as the amendments currently stand. This would exclude the child of a same sex couple who was born outside of the State through DAHR procedures, where the non-birthing mother is an Irish citizen and the birth mother is not.

If you have any queries relation to citizenship in the above circumstances or generally, obtaining a passport for your child or applying for naturalisation as an Irish citizen, please get in touch.  We are here to help.


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