MINISTER SHATTER'S RECENT STATEMENT ON SHAM MARRAIGES
The INIS press release of the 9th June 2011, entitled “Sham marriages leading to abuse of free movement rights ” summarizes Minister Shatter’s recent speech to the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxemburg. The Minister informed the Council of the “highly irregular” patterns of marriage. He indicated that his official were working on drafting amendments to the Immigration and Residence Bill to deal with the problem of “marriage of convenience”, and that this Bill would be re introduced shortly.
We very much welcome the fact that that the Minister proposes to take action against the fraudulent industry surrounding the EU Treaty Rights process. We would agree with his position that the problem is significant and requires intervention by the State in the form of appropriate legislation. The current position is completely unsatisfactory in that it is not currently an offence to enter a fraudulent marriage for immigration purposes. This leaves the field wide open for abuse of the process, and frankly it is of no surprise that a fraudulent industry has flourished.
Since the case of Izmailovich v the Commissioner of an Garda Siochana, delivered on the 31st January 2011, the Government is fully on notice of this legal lacuna of the “marriage of convenience”. Mr Justice Hogan, who presided over the Izmailovich case, indicated in his judgement that he had no option but to find that the Gardai are not empowered to prevent the solemnisation of marriage on the grounds that they suspect, even with good reason, that the marriage is one of convenience because under current law the marriage would be valid. He summed up the position succinctly, and went so far as to call on the legislature to resolve the situation;
“I quiet appreciate that the decision in this case may present the authorities with very considerable difficulties in this problematic area. But, as I indicated at the hearing, if the law in this area is considered to be unsatisfactory then it is of course in principle open to the Oireachtas and if needs be the Union legislature to address these questions. As this decision in its own way illustrates, the problems encountered here are difficult once and present complex questions of public policy in relation to marriage and immigration. These, however, are ultimately policy questions which only the Oireachtas and again if needs be the Union legislature can resolve”
We too call on the Minister to take action in this area, as it is to the great disservice and frustration of all genuine applicants in the EU Treaty Rights process that the fraud is permitted to continue.