THE tightening of the UK’s immigration laws is resulting in an increase in the number of ‘sham marriages’ in Ireland, especially among nationals from the Indian subcontinent.
Statistics show that of the 234 marriage applications between EU and non-EU nationals excluding Irish citizens in the first six months of 2015, 94 of the non-EU nationals were Pakistanis.
The figures were revealed at last week’s sitting of Castlebar District Court by Garda Brendan Ó Somachain of the Garda National Immigration Bureau during the prosecution of Pakistani national Nadia Mir with an address at Bracklaghboy, Knock Road, Ballyhaunis.
Ms Nir (39) was charged with giving false and misleading information at Castlebar Civil Registry Office on June 9, 2015 and also with giving false and misleading information to an officer of the Refugee Application Commission on September 22, 2015. She pleaded guilty to both offences.
Garda Brendan Ó Somachain explained that legislation has now been introduced since last year to deal with marriage of conveniences. He said the number of marriage applications between EU and non EU nationals was increasing and the purpose was to obtain EU Treaty rights.
The number of asylum applications was also increasing especially from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Up until August 2015, 973 applications were from Pakistani nationals and 200 were from Bangladeshi nationals - up from 91 and 31 applications two years previously.
“The UK has strengthened their Immigration laws and this has resulted in more people coming to Ireland, especially Indian sub continent nationals. They travel by ferry to Northern Ireland and travel illegally by bus across the border,” Garda Ó Somachain explained.
Garda Brendan Ó Somachain revealed that Ms Mir had studied in the UK and was refused for a visa in 2008 but was granted one in December 2009 on appeal. She had been married in Pakistan but her husband did not travel to the UK and it was claimed they were now divorced.
Her visa expired in February 2011 and in March 2015 she travelled to Ireland where she applied for asylum before moving to an asylum accommodation centre in Killarney.
Garda Ó Somachain said she met Romanian national Ioan Arminia and served notice to marry in the registry office in Castlebar on June 9, 2015.
They claimed they were living at 9 Riveroaks, Ballaghaderreen and produced an electricity bill as proof of their address. The bill was genuine but Garda Ó Somachain said it was only registered from May 16, 2015 until June 18, 2015.
The mobile phone they provided was only used by the couple from May 16, 2015 to July 9, 2015 and was also used by five ‘alleged couples’ who all resided in the east Mayo and west Roscommon area.
Garda Ó Somachain said that all the documents produced were genuine but Ms Nir did not live there and resided in Killarney at the time. This he said was admitted when they were interviewed and questioned. In relation to the application of asylum, he said Ms Nir was obliged to surrender all documents. However, after applying for asylum she obtained a passport and birth certificate from the Pakistani embassy, the country she was seeking asylum from.
Mr Arminia appeared before the court last month and accepted that the marriage was one of convenience at the time but he now loves Ms Nir.
Solicitor for Ms Nir, Ita Feeney said her client accepted what she did was wrong but stressed she was in a relationship with Mr Arminia and were anxious to marry.
Judge Mary Devins said she would adjourn sentencing until September 7 as she wanted an update on the couple’s ‘romance’.