Tuesday 25 July 2017

Sorry mess of sham marriages is hard to police

Allegations from women of being coerced or intimidated into bogus marriages are worrying, writes Emer O'Kelly

Sham marriages have been in the news in the past week, thanks to an interview given some time ago by Dennis Prior, superintendent registrar for the HSE eastern area, published last Tuesday in the Irish Times. In the interview Mr Prior is quoted as saying he would "estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of (civil) marriages (at present) are at risk of being sham marriages".

You could argue that it is nobody's business -- least of all Mr Prior's, whose duty it is to uphold the law, and not to worry about ethics that the law does not reflect -- if people choose to marry for the wrong reasons, in pretence or for profit.

Under the Civil Registration Act of 2004 in Ireland: "Persons must give three months' notice of intention to marry, in person, to a registrar. The parties are required to satisfy the registrar as to their identity and to make a declaration that there is no impediment to the marriage. There is an impediment to the marriage if the parties are already married, of the same sex, closely related by blood or marriage, are under 18 years of age or are not capable of giving a free and informed consent to the marriage."

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