More than one in six Irish marriages could be a “sham” in an attempt to gain EU residency, a senior registrar has said.
One of the Republic's main marriage registrars, Dennis Prior, said he had witnessed couples unable to speak to each other and who required two interpreters at their ceremony.
Officials are now mooting the introduction of an interview similar to that which green card holders undergo in America.
Mr Prior, superintendent registrar for the Health Service Executive eastern area, said that the increase in suspected sham marriages, estimated at several hundred per year, was “disheartening and demoralising” for registrars.
Recent evidence from the South’s Department of Justice outlined that the number of non-EU nationals applying for residency based on marriage to EU citizens doubled since 2006.
Pakistanis have made 1,235 applications since 2002 — 393 of which are based on marriage to Latvians — while Nigerians and Indians make up a particularly large proportion of marriages to EU citizens, particularly from states such as Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The General Register Office and Dept of Social Protection are drafting new guidelines.