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Sham marriage dispute: 'My partner's parents had their flights booked, but now our wedding can't happen'

A staff dispute means an Irish citizen marrying a non-EU citizen cannot have their marriage processed.

Image: Shutterstock/MNStudio

IRISH CITIZENS HAVE been caught up in a dispute over the implementation of new legislation designed to prevent sham marriages, a TD has said.

It comes a day after more than 200 gardaí investigating marriages of convenience conducted 42 raids on premises across the country, arresting 11 people.

The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 brought in a process where couples must sit an interview to ensure the marriage is legitimate, and is targeted at non-Irish EU citizens marrying people from outside of the EU.

It also requires Irish citizens marrying non-EU citizens to be interviewed despite them not being automatically granted residency. A staff dispute means these interviews are not taking place.

A constituent of independent TD Denis Naughten said their partner’s parents had flights booked to travel to Ireland for the wedding, but it can no longer go ahead as planned next month.

“[The registry office] informed me that as they had not received training they could not carry out this interview, I then asked if it could be conducted elsewhere (like Dublin) and they said I could ask. They also stated they would pass it to their Super,” the correspondence, edited for clarity, read.

I then called Dublin where I was told the same thing, they had not been trained and I asked for the time frame in which they thought this could be carried out. I was told it is before the Labour Courts in January, or so he thought.

“This has put a serious hold on things as we cannot proceed without it, I have a function room booked and my partner’s parents have even paid for flights to Ireland to attend.”

A caller to Liveline this afternoon said he and his fiancée were experiencing the same problem.

“By the time her visa is up, she won’t be my spouse,” James told the programme.

He explained that she is currently entitled to a student visa, and if she renewed it for another year she would be unable to work.

We would not have a normal life or relationship. We don’t know what’s going to happen.

He explained they had already lost their wedding venue, and had dozens of guests booked to stay in a hotel.

Denis Naughten said he supports the legislation but said the issue is “hugely frustrating” for the couples involved.

18/5/2007 Fine Gael pre-school Denis Naughten Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

“Because civil registrars are refusing to perform the interviews of couples where one was born outside the EU,” Naughten explained, “marriages involving an Irish person and someone from outside the EU are effectively being blocked indefinitely.”

In the same month that same sex couples were given the right to marry for the first time, both same sex and opposite sex couples wishing to marry, where one partner is from outside the EU, are having their Constitutional right denied to them.

Searches were carried out in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Longford, Louth, Limerick, Mayo and Cork investigating sham marriages earlier this week.

According to gardaí, the investigation has uncovered a number of criminal networks in the UK and Ireland which provide false information and documentation to marriage registrars.

“These criminal elements are gleaning huge profits by organising residency status for non-EU nationals through these marriages of convenience,” a garda spokesperson said.

A stun gun and about €30,000 in cash were also retrieved.

The HSE has been contacted for comment.

Read: 11 people arrested during massive garda operation into sham marriages >

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Nicky Ryan

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