New powers granted to marriage registrars to prevent sham marriages
New legislation aimed at tackling sham marriages comes into force today.
It gives marriage registrars extensive powers to prevent marriage for immigration purposes.
There have been increasing allegations of sham marriages in recent years.
These involve statistically improbable patterns of marriage from a cultural and language perspective, including women from Eastern Europe and more recently Portugal, with men from the Indian sub-continent.
Registrars are being given the right to investigate and form an opinion of the accuracy of marriage applications and they can refuse to issue a marriage registration form.
They will also be able to inform and make inquiries of the Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald said: "In addition to EU Free Movement rights, the right to marry in Ireland is also protected in the Constitution.
"The reality is though, that in some cases these rights are abused.
"The abuse of the institution of marriage, for immigration purposes, cannot and will not be tolerated.
"A non EEA national coming to the end of his immigration permission or without any immigration permission can contract a sham marriage with an EU national to extend their permission.
"Women are exploited in such arrangements and even if money changes hands there is obviously scope for coercion and intimidation."
"I am also deeply concerned that in some instances women may be trafficked to Ireland with a view to being forced into sham marriages.
"Any such cases are thoroughly investigated by the Garda authorities as a criminal matter and the introduction of this legislation is, I believe, an essential addition in deterring such activities."