In Ireland, the issue of sham marriage has been the subject of much political debate and legal controversy, as have the measures that have been introduced by the Irish authorities in their attempts to prevent and address perceived abuses of the domestic immigration system by individuals entering in marriages for the sole purpose of gaining residence entitlements in Ireland. Whilst some concerns had been expressed regarding exploitation of vulnerable EU citizens, until recently issues related to sham marriage have generally not been linked with human trafficking. However, in the past few years, authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across Europe have identified cases presenting to consular and other services, such as refuges, where there are indicators of trafficking.
To date there has been little or no research examining the nature or scale of the problem. Consequently, in 2014, the European Commission provided project funding to undertake research regarding the situation in five EU countries – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Ireland, which is the only destination country included in the research project. The Immigrant Council of Ireland Independent Law Centre (ICI), an organisation that has been to the fore in identifying the issue of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation in Ireland and seeking to ensure that the rights of victims are protected fully, undertook the research for this Ireland country report.