Around 4,000 people who have not been able to become Irish citizens because of Covid-19 restrictions will be able to do so under a temporary system that comes into effect from today.

A statutory declaration signed in the presence of an official witness will replace citizenship ceremonies.

The last citizenship ceremony, held in March last year, saw 5,000 people from 135 countries welcomed as Irish citizens.

But as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, no in-person ceremonies have been held since then, which has contributed to almost 24,000 applications in the system.

Around 4,000 of these were in the final stages and would have received a certificate of naturalisation if the ceremonies had gone ahead.

But from today, a signed and witnessed statutory declaration will replace the ceremonies as a means of securing Irish citizenship.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said this is a temporary arrangement, which she hopes "will bring certainty to people whose applications have effectively been put on hold because of the pandemic".

She said a "significant number of healthcare and frontline workers who have made an extraordinary contribution during the pandemic will benefit from the new arrangements".

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Alexander Loginov's journey to Irish citizenship has been delayed by Covid restrictions.

He moved to Ireland from Kiev in Ukraine seven years ago and applied for citizenship in June 2019.

Mr Loginov told RTÉ News that he received a letter saying he had been approved for Citizenship in September 2020 but with ceremonies suspended he could not get his certificate of naturalisation.

Alexander Loginov 

Today, he said he was relieved to learn that temporary measures were being put in place to replace the ceremonies and allow around 4,000 people to complete the process online.

"This is a great relief, at least it gives a hope that it will be resolved by March, maybe April," he said.

Immigration solicitor, Carol Sinnott said, "while this helps the 4,000 people who were affected by Covid and the suspension of ceremonies, it doesn't address the wide issue that there are literally thousands of people in the system who are waiting for their applications to be dealt with".

Additional reporting: Dyane Connor