Sunday 22 September 2019

Couple fight claim of sham relationship in bid to be allowed marry

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A couple blocked from getting married due to suspicions their relationship was a sham have issued High Court proceedings against the Civil Registration Service and the HSE.

A registrar objected to the union after forming the belief it would be "a marriage of convenience".

Such marriages have been prevalent in Ireland in recent years and generally involve a man from outside the EU marrying a female EU citizen, with whom he had no prior relationship, to secure the right to live and work in Ireland.

According to gardaí, fees of up to €20,000 can be paid for arranging such marriages

However, the couple involved in the High Court action, an Indian man who has sought asylum in Ireland and a woman originally from the UK, say they are in a loving relationship.

They vehemently deny their proposed marriage would be a sham.

The couple are seeking orders directing the Superintendent Registrar of the Civil Registration Service to make a decision on their case.

Under legislation introduced in 2016 to clamp down on sham marriages, registrars can object to a proposed marriage. They are obliged to make a report to a superintendent registrar, who then decides the matter.

The couple in the case before the court allege the superintendent registrar has failed or refused to comply with their duty to make a decision "as soon as practicable".

They are now seeking orders directing that a decision be made.

The judicial review proceedings were initiated on an ex-parte, or one side only, basis earlier this month.

According to documents filed with the High Court, the couple lodged a notification of intention to marry in November 2016.

Under the Civil Registration Act, a couple must give three months' notice of their intention to marry.

The man attended for an interview with a registrar in October last year, but was informed two months later that the registrar was of the opinion the proposed marriage was "a marriage of convenience".

The man subsequently sought a copy of the file containing the basis on which the opinion was formed.

While the file was largely released in April of this year, it is alleged certain relevant information was withheld.

According to court papers, these documents were eventually released after separate High Court proceedings were initiated during the summer.

Siobhán Conlon, a solicitor representing the couple, made submissions to the superintendent registrar in July.

But according to court papers, the solicitor has received no response to a number of requests for information on when a decision may be reached.

The woman involved in the case is said to have a medical condition and it is alleged the failure or refusal to make a decision is infringing upon family and privacy rights.

The Civil Registration Service has not yet filed any papers in response.

The case is due to return to the court in January.

Irish Independent

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