By Sean Moriarty

For three years it was one of the biggest occasions in Killarney but like everything else the annual citizenship ceremonies will not take place this year.

On Monday March 2 last year, over 5,000 people become Irish citizens at special ceremonies that took place at the INEC.

It was one of the last major events in Killarney before COVID-19 restrictions came into place 10 days later.

This year, as a result of crowd gathering rules, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has announced that a temporary system is in place that will enable citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty to the State.

“This signed statutory declaration replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19,” she said.

Since 2011, 151 such ceremonies have been held and 132,000 people from 180 countries have become citizens.

Killarney has hosted several of these ceremonies since 2018, the first year that they took place outside Dublin, providing a welcome pre-tourist season boost to the town.

Last March, a total of six ceremonies, held over two days, saw people from 135 countries declared citizens of the Republic of Ireland in Killarney.