Trainee garda married gay woman in sham marriage for €15,000

Asian recruit resigns after investigators find he paid gay woman from Eastern Europe to wed him

A Garda recruit has resigned from the force after it was found he paid a woman €15,000 for a sham marriage so he would gain the right to live and work in Ireland.

The man, who is from Asia, paid an Eastern European woman to be his "bride". Through his marriage to an EU citizen he secured the right to reside in Ireland permanently and work here.

Last year, about three years after the sham marriage, he was so sure he had cheated the system and his sham marriage had gone undetected, he applied to join the Garda.

He passed the aptitude and physical tests and was among the successful applicants to reach and pass the interview stage of the recruitment process run by the Public Appointments Service.


He had never been in trouble with the police in his home country and his immigration status appeared in order, because of his marriage to an EU citizen. As a result, nothing about him flagged any suspicions or warnings during security vetting.

He passed the vetting stage and was offered a place in the Garda, which he took up last year. He entered the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, last November.

However, in recent months detectives working on the Garda’s Operation Vantage had been continuing to probe suspected sham marriages between men and women from what are regarded as risk countries.

While the Asian man was almost six months into his Garda training, his marriage was identified as suspect some weeks ago. He and the woman he married, as well as two other people, were interviewed separately last weekend by detectives working on Operation Vantage.

All four suspects admitted their roles in two sham marriages in Dublin about five years ago. And the Asian man immediately resigned from the Garda.

Informed sources said he was highly regarded in the Garda College and that those who knew him were shocked to learn he had been involved in a sham marriage.

A criminal investigation is now underway and a file is being prepared for the DPP. The former Garda recruit, who was training to be a full-time member of the force rather than a reservist, also faces deportation because he is now an illegal alien.

The Irish Times understands the man who has just resigned from the Garda arrived in the Republic with a friend from their Asian country of origin around five years ago.

After initially claiming asylum here they then married two women from Eastern Europe. Both of the women are gay but they agreed to marry the men for a fee of €15,000 each.

The marriages were carried out without incident. And in interviews with the Irish National Immigration Service (INIS) both couples satisfied staff their marriages were genuine and so the men were given permission to live and work in Ireland on a permanent basis.

Their marriages occurred just before a major Garda clampdown on sham marriages in the Republic between men from Asia and EU citizen women.

However, though the Garda recruit and his friend managed to evade the 2014-2015 clampdown at the time, marriages that occurred during that period continue to be investigated by the Garda.

How the scam detected in 2015 worked

The men involved were mostly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Mauritius and were paying between €10,000 and €20,000 each to marry women from eastern Europe and Portugal. The men were coming to the Republic, often from mainland Britain after their permission to reside there had expired.

They were claiming asylum in the Republic, which allowed them to reside here pending the processing of their application. The men were then using an international criminal gang specialising in sham marriages to find European brides and marry them for a large fee.

However, when the numbers of men from a small number of Asian countries claiming asylum in the Republic of Ireland spiked sharply in 2014 the Garda began investigating.

They soon realised the Asian men had been coming here and claiming asylum as part of a sham marriage scam. New legislation was introduced to give the Garda greater powers to investigate suspect sham marriages and to object to a marriage that was planned on the basis it was believed to be bogus.

After around one year of investigation, the Garda made a series of arrests in November, 2015.

The Garda said at the time a Dublin-based international crime gang has arranged up to 1,000 sham marriages in the Republic and generated between €10 million and €20 million through the fees it had charged.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times