18th August, 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., today welcomed the commencement of new legislation introduced by the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, to give marriage Registrars extensive new powers to prevent the abuse of the institution of marriage for immigration purposes. The new powers take effect from Tuesday the 18th August, 2015.
In Ireland in recent years there have been increasing allegations of sham marriages. This involves statistically improbable patterns of marriage, from a cultural and linguistic perspective, notably between women from Eastern Europe and, more recently from Portugal, and men from the Indian sub-continent.
The new legislation will make 'marriages of convenience' an impediment to marriage and will allow a Registrar the right to investigate and to form an opinion, based on the information presented by the two parties, of the veracity of the application to marry. Ultimately, they can refuse to issue a marriage registration form and are empowered to inform and make enquiries of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice & Equality. In that regard, the General Registration Office, the immigration services and the Garda National Immigration Bureau have and will continue to work closely to prevent such marriages taking place and to ensure no immigration advantage is gained as a result.
Minister Fitzgerald said, "In addition to EU Free Movement rights, the right to marry in Ireland is also protected in the Constitution. The reality is though, that in some cases these rights are abused. The abuse of the institution of marriage, for immigration purposes, cannot and will not be tolerated.
The Minister continued, "A non EEA national coming to the end of his immigration permission or without any immigration permission can contract a sham marriage with an EU national to extend their permission. Women are exploited in such arrangements and even if money changes hands there is obviously scope for coercion and intimidation."
"I am also deeply concerned that in some instances women may be trafficked to Ireland with a view to being forced into sham marriages. Any such cases are thoroughly investigated by the Garda authorities as a criminal matter and the introduction of this legislation is, I believe, an essential addition in deterring such activities."