The Tánaiste Joan Burton, T.D. has announced that a number of provisions in the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 will take effect today.

These include provisions which make it more difficult to broker marriages of convenience or so-called ‘sham marriages’ in the State. This is achieved by making a marriage of convenience an impediment to marriage and allowing a registrar the right to investigate.

The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 was enacted last December, having been brought to Cabinet by the Tánaiste and steered through both Houses of the Oireachtas by herself and Minister of State, Kevin Humphreys, T.D.

The Tánaiste said: “These powers are intended to clamp down on abuse of marriages of convenience. EU citizens and their families have the right to move and reside freely within the territories of the Member States. These rights also apply to non-EU national spouses of EU nationals. The right to marry is also particularly protected in the Constitution. However, these rules are being abused by individuals who are using marriage to gain an automatic right of residency. The powers that are being given to the registrars today will make it more difficult for marriages of convenience to be contracted.”

Under the provisions which take effect today, the registrars in the Civil Registration Service will have the powers to form an opinion on whether an intended marriage would constitute a marriage of convenience and, consequently, there is an impediment to the marriage. The Act also provides for increased sharing of information in relation to suspected marriages of convenience between the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality.

Kevin Humphreys, Labour Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, has also welcomed the commencement of the legislation: “The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 provides for a wide range of matters relating to the registration of life events in the State. The Act introduces important and progressive changes to the civil registration processes, including these provisions which are aimed at combatting marriages of convenience and the abuse of the civil registration system”.