EU ruling 'hampers exposure' of bogus weddings
Immigration authorities here have been handcuffed by an EU court ruling in their efforts to crack down on a massive bogus marriage scam.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern admitted yesterday that marriage patterns involving certain nationalities were so statistically abnormal that they could not have occurred by chance.
An analysis of the marriages of 4,600 applicants who applied to live here since the EU Freedom of Movement directive came into force in May 2006 showed that 15pc were asylum seekers and 15pc were students, or those who had been students in the past and were subsequently illegal.
Most of the failed asylum seekers were Nigerians, while the majority of the students were Pakistanis. A breakdown of marriage patterns revealed:
- A total of 10pc of the EU spouses were Latvian.
- Some 33pc of the Latvians were married to Pakistanis.
- Some 50pc were married to Pakistanis, Bangladeshis or Indians, compared to 39pc married to non-EU nationals from closer to home, including other Latvians, Ukrainians, or Russians.
Gardai say there is growing evidence that asylum seekers and those living illegally in the country are marrying EU nationals to gain legal status or avoid deportation.
Officials say bogus marriages are sold for between €3,000 and €4,000.
Some 30pc of 2,000 applications for residence in Ireland on the basis of marriage to an EU citizen last year are estimated to have been from those living here illegally, or with temporary or limited permissions.
A European Court of Justice ruling on the Freedom of Movement directive last July made it much more difficult to deal with the racket, according to EU states.
Mr Ahern told a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels yesterday: "It is clear that this sort of safety net will lead to increased abuse of the directive and undermines the work being done in respect of combating illegal migration."
He was unable to attend the meeting because of the Fine Gael refusal to grant pairing arrangements for ministers to carry out duties overseas.
But in his address, delivered by a senior diplomat, he said there was now a strong incentive for marriages of convenience.
Ireland's campaign for a fresh look at the interpretation of the directive is being supported by Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic Austria and, broadly, by Britain.