Friday 23 March 2018

Rwanda couple challenge marriage refusal

A COUPLE from Rwanda have brought a High Court challenge against a refusal by the authorities to allow them get married here.

The court heard today that  Registrar General of Death Births and Marriages  informed the couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, earlier this year that they cannot get married because the matter of whether they were "free to marry" remained "unclear."

The couple, who are both Rwandan refugees and have been residing in Ireland for several years, have brought a challenge because against what they says is an unlawful and unreasonable refusal to allow them marry.

They say that their are of full age and capacity, and are not married to anyone else. As matters stand they say they cannot get married.

The couple got engaged two years ago and applied for permission to marry in 2012 at the Civil Registration Office at Joyce House in Dublin. As part of their application they provided a number of documents as required.

In January the couple were informed by the the Registrar General that their application to have a civil marriage was refused, and it was suggested that they go before a Circuit Court and seek a declaration under section 29 of the Family Law Act that would allow them marry.

Today, Colm O'Dwyer Bl for the couple said that during that process a query was raised when in the course of a meeting the couple disclosed that the groom went to Africa for a customary introduction to her parents.

Counsel said that it appeared that officials at the Civil Registration Office seemed to think the couple maybe already married in a traditional ceremony following a visit to the bride's family.

In 2011 following the couple's engagement, the groom went to Namibia where his fiance's family live, to introduce himself.  The man travelled to Namibia alone because she cannot get travel documents as she is seeking asylum in Ireland.

His clients' counsel added did not have any traditional ceremony or undergo anything like that in Namibia.

Counsel agreed with Mr Justice Michael Peart that it was their case that it would be "difficult to see" how the couple could have got married in Namibia "if she was not there."

In their action, the couple want the High Court to quash the General Register's Office refusal of their application to marry in Ireland, which was communicated to them on January 18 last. They also want the court to order the Registrar General to reconsider and determine their application as a matter of urgency.

The argue the Registrar General has erred in law and acted unreasonably in refusing their application to marry and there is no impediment to their marriage.

Permission to bring the application was granted on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis by Mr Justice Peart today who made the matter returnable to a date next April.

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