An article in the Irish Independent on Monday, 27th August discusses the new laws that are designed to crack down on sham marriages. Immigration officials have seen a rise in sham marriages, where a non-EU national marries an EU national for the sole purpose of gaining residency. The article reports, “Sums of at least €2,000 are being paid to Eastern European women to take part and in some cases gardai have found payments of up to €10,000.” After the non-EU national has gained a permanent form of residency, the marriage is dissolved. An analysis of the immigration figures have revealed that a disproportionate number of sham marriages occur between Pakistanis and partners from Baltic states, specifically Latvia. “One-third of the 1,617 applicants last year were to marry a Latvian or Lithuanian national.” The gardai have found no evidence that these women were the victims of trafficking.
The issue has been raised by UK Home Secretary Theresa May, and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, as well as discussed at EU Justice and Home Affairs meetings. The gardai blocked 150 marriages that they believed to be fraudulent, but the High Court in Dublin ruled that they had no authorization for such an arrest. Legislation is currently being drafted to tighten the restrictions and prevent this abuse of residency rights.