Saturday 17 March 2018

Mary Kenny: 'Many people have married for respectability, or to cover up a dodgy past'

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

I have known plenty of sham marriages during my life. Some of these were highly altruistic. I know at least two men who entered into a sham marriage to help women get an exit visa from behind the Iron Curtain, before the Berlin Wall came down. I thought it was a wonderful thing to do.

This has been a known practice to help out in difficult circumstances. Even Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian writer who wasn't always admirable in his conduct towards women, entered into an altruistic sham marriage to help a Jewish girl out of the Austria under Hitler's rule, almost certainly saving her life.

Before 'tough new laws', as they are described, are enacted in Dáil Éireann to prevent so-called sham marriages, I suggest we spend a little time thinking about this issue. It isn't simple and it isn't black and white.

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