Okornoe v Minister for Justice and Equality


[2016] IEHC 100



Humphreys J.

[2016 No. 28 J.R.]


Asylum, Immigration & Nationality – S. 15 (1) (b) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 – Reasoned decisions

Facts: The applicant sought leave to seek judicial review of the order of the respondent refusing the applicant's application for naturalisation. The respondent contended that since the applicant failed to disclose that he was investigated in relation to an offence of sexual assault, his application for naturalisation was refused. The applicant contended that the respondent acted under the assumption that the term ‘offence’ meant that the respondent was guilty of the offence.

Mr. Justice Richard Humphreys refused to grant leave to the applicant. The Court held that the applicant had failed to make an arguable case warranting the grant of leave. The Court found that in the present ex-parte application, the applicant had not revealed that he was questioned and investigated in relation to an allegation of sexual assault notwithstanding the fact that he was subsequently acquitted of those charges. The Court held that the administrative decision-makers were bound to give reasoned decisions but not the reasons for not waiving relevant conditions.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Richard Humphreys delivered on the 15th day of February, 2016

In this application for leave to seek judicial review, the applicant challenges a decision of the Minister dated 23rd October, 2015 refusing his application for naturalisation.


The applicant is a national of Ghana residing in the State. He was convicted of driving without insurance on 2nd February, 2006, and fined €200. An allegation of sexual assault against a female person was made against him in connection with an incident that occurred in 2010. The applicant, who bears the burden of proof and indeed also a duty of full disclosure in an ex parte application, has not thought it necessary to inform me in the grounding papers as to when he was questioned or investigated in relation to this alleged sexual assault. However, in the ordinary nature of things, I would infer that in the absence of material to the contrary, such investigation was more likely than not to have been in 2010. The fact that the applicant has not provided evidence that the investigation post-dated his application for naturalisation would only reinforce that inference.


On 19th August, 2011, he completed an application form for naturalisation. In response to the question as to whether he is or had ever been the subject of an investigation in Ireland by the Garda Síochána, he answered ‘ no’.


On 1st February, 2013, he was acquitted of sexual assault in the Circuit Court. No application to redact his identity in the context of the present proceedings was made to me. I am not aware that any such application was made in the context of his trial.


By decision dated 23rd October, 2015, his application for naturalisation was refused. It is a statutory condition of such applications that the applicant be of good character (s. 15(1)(b) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as substituted by s. 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1986).


The Minister's analysis of the naturalisation application concluded ‘ given the nature of the offences and that the applicant failed to disclose the offences on his application form, I am not satisfied that the applicant is of good character’.


Mr. James Buckley, B.L., on behalf of the applicant submits that there is an error in the reasoning on the grounds that the use of the term ‘offences’ meant...

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