A High Court judge yesterday urged the State to step up measures to end sham marriages by people resisting deportation.
A person’s unlawful presence in the State cannot be converted into lawful status merely by a ceremony of marriage, said Mr Justice Richard Humphreys.
He wants the Government and other authorities to “prevent, root out, and revoke bogus marriages”.
His comments came as he deported a 45-year-old Algerian man involved in a marriage of convenience to a Hungarian national.
The man had been refused asylum by the Refugee Applications Commissioner after his arrival in Ireland 15 years ago.
The judge said that, five months after a deportation order had been made against the Algerian man in 2004, “we have the wearyingly predictable feature of his marriage to a young Hungarian woman”, who left Ireland four years later and with whom he had had no contact since. There had been no children from the marriage.
In a separate case, Judge Humphreys dismissed an asylum appeal in which a Nigerian woman given a right of residence in Ireland had “married” a Nigerian man against whom there was a deportation order.
The judge said it was up to the woman, who had lived in Ireland for the past 16 years, to decide if she wished to join her now-deported husband in Nigeria.
She was now an Irish citizen and had a job, he said, and it was up to her to decide whether she valued the congeniality of living in Ireland more than that of living with her husband.
Judge Humphreys said the State had an entitlement to give effect to the immigration control system and the courts should only intervene if the decision of the Minister for Justice was clearly unlawful.
“Who is running Ireland’s immigration system? Is it the minister or the courts?” asked Judge Humphreys. “To quash an immigration decision on the grounds that insufficient compelling reasons have been furnished to override rights of a person married to an Irish citizen is not very far short of telling the minister to grant the applicant concerned permission to be in the State.”
Judge Humphreys said he did not accept that the minister required “compelling justification” to separate a party to a marriage of convenience from the other party. No rational system could tolerate such a requirement, he said.
Meanwhile, a continuing garda operation has led to a significant fall in the number of bogus marriages by people resisting deportation.
Bogus marriages have become a multi-million-euro fraud operation. The Operation Vantage investigation is targeting a number of criminal networks in Ireland and the UK engaged in the facilitation of marriages of convenience by providing false information and documentation to marriage registrars.
Gardaí say a large number of men from the Indian subcontinent, in particular, are trying to get married in Ireland to women from eastern Europe with EU citizen status.
The operation, which commenced a year ago has, to date, brought about 58 arrests on offences relating to illegal immigration and marriages of convenience.
Since the inception of the operation, under the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2004, gardaí said a notable decrease of notifications of intention to marry have been received between EU and non-EU persons compared with previous years.
The multi-agency investigation also involves the Revenue Commissioners, the Immigration Service, the Department of Social Welfare, the Director of Corporate Enforcement, and the Workplace Relations Commission.
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