Thursday 17 January 2019

Gardai can't stop 'sham marriages'

THERE was no power to arrest a bridegroom as his wedding was about to take place even though gardai believed it was a marriage of convenience, a judge has ruled.

Justice Gerard Hogan ordered the release from prison of failed asylum seeker Mahmoud Elmorsy Ads, from Egypt, after he was arrested at the impending nuptials with Lithuanian painter and decorator Ustinia Izmailovic, who met him over the internet in 2009.

Two officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) arrived at the civil registration office in Cavan on January 12 last with a letter of objection from their superior, Det Chief Supt John O'Driscoll, saying it was a marriage of convenience.

They arrested him for evasion of a deportation order and the marriage did not take place.

His lawyers brought proceedings in the High Court which heard the couple claimed to have gone through a religious marriage ceremony at a mosque in Clanbrassil Street, Dublin, on July 12 last and then applied for a civil marriage. They had been together shortly after her arrival here in May last and she had utility bills to show where she had been living.


Mr Justice Hogan ruled gardai did not have the power to object to non-EU citizens from entering into a marriage of convenience for immigration purposes.

The principal reason for Mr Ads' arrest was to prevent the marriage, the judge said. If the marriage had gone ahead, it would have been valid even if it was a marriage of convenience. Whether or not it was such a marriage is something that could only be established afterwards by a senior official in the Minister for Justice's office, the judge said.

There was no free-standing power of objection to a marriage taking place, he said. If one existed then it could "open a Pandora's box of mischief and abuse".

It could lead to circumstances such as "a jilted former lover maddened by jealously" could object on ground of "pure spite" to a proposed marriage or that well-meaning relatives could also object to a marriage on a ground that a bride did not love the groom.

What was clear from this case is that the State has not asserted the right to prevent such marriages from taking place.


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