Wednesday 18 October 2017

Dispute halts interviews to block sham marriages

Under new laws aimed at targeting ‘sham marriages’, couples must be interviewed by registrars as part of a series of tests to ensure the relationship is legitimate
Under new laws aimed at targeting ‘sham marriages’, couples must be interviewed by registrars as part of a series of tests to ensure the relationship is legitimate
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Couples where one partner is from outside the EU are being prevented from getting married because of an industrial dispute involving civil registrars.

Under new laws aimed at targeting 'sham marriages', couples must be interviewed by registrars as part of a series of tests to ensure the relationship is legitimate.

However, due to a lack of consultation before the rules were brought in, these interviews have not been taking place.

It comes as gardaí revealed details of a crackdown on marriages of convenience that resulted in 42 searches conducted earlier this week and 11 people arrested.

The raids were part of Operation Vantage, which has identified a number of criminal networks based in Ireland and the UK which are engaged in facilitating sham marriages that exploit the asylum and immigration system.

The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 came into effect in August and gave registrars responsibility for investigating marriages involving non-EU citizens.

But registrars, who are employed by the HSE, have refused to implement this, saying they have been provided with no training.

Impact trade union spokesman Niall Shanahan told the Irish Independent: "Developments this week, linking criminal activity to arranged 'sham' marriages, have shown that our members' concerns were very real.

"In other jurisdictions, this work is usually undertaken by immigration and/or law enforcement agencies."

Talks are ongoing to try resolve the situation and Mr Shanahan said they were actively trying to resolve the issues.

In a brief statement, the HSE said: "The HSE is currently involved in positive talks with Impact and it's hoped that progress can be made in the coming weeks."

It is not known how many marriages have been delayed but Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said he was aware of constituents affected.

He has asked Tánaiste Joan Burton to intervene.

"This is just not good enough and if a solution cannot be found, then the regulation needs to be changed to allow another competent person to perform the interviews pending a resolution of this dispute," he said.

Irish Independent

Also in this section