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Friday 21 July 2017

Priests reject immigration role

Tom Prendeville

A proposed new law requiring the clergy to refuse to perform a marriage unless couples can prove that they have a residency permit to legally stay in Ireland is causing uproar among priests.

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 proposes that priests establish if one or both of the nuptials has a residency permit, and if not they are obliged to refuse to celebrate their marriage.

However, the move has provoked uproar among priests who are angry at what they believe is the state's interference in matters of the church.

"This would effectively turn priests into immigration police. It would not under any circumstances be acceptable to me and there is a lot of disquiet among my colleagues" said an influential Dublin cleric. "The state should respect the fact that the right to marry and to establish a family is a universally recognised human right," said Father Kevin Doran, the former director of Vocations for Dublin and current Parish Priest of Glendalough."

Up until last November, the procedure for getting married was a relatively simple and straightforward affair.

Couples were obliged to write to the Civil Registration Service and give them three months' notice of their intention to marry.

A marriage registration form was then sent to the couple, which in turn, was signed in the church on the day of the wedding in front of a witness to prove that the wedding had taken place. Thereafter, it was the responsibility of the married couple to send the document back to the Registration Service who registered the marriage as a civil union.

However, couples now have to present themselves for an interview at the Civil Registration Service before being issued with a marriage registration form -- a 'service' which the registration service charges €150 to perform.

Due to a backlog of marriage interview requests, couples have to give at least two months' notice.

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