Number of marriages in State fell by about 1,000 last year

Moves to clampdown on sham marriages have had impact, Civil Registration Service says

More than 21,000 couples were married in the State last year, according to figures from the Civil Registration Service.

More than 21,000 couples were married in the State last year, according to figures from the Civil Registration Service.

 

More than 21,000 couples were married in the State last year, a decrease of about 1,000 on the previous year, according to figures from the Civil Registration Service.

Some 87 per cent of these (18,330) involved couples where neither person had been married before. In almost 1,800 cases (8.5 per cent) one of the pair had been married previously, and in 572 marriages both people were divorcees.

A referendum on divorce passed comfortably in May with more than 82 per cent support, which allowed the Government to legislate to reduce the period a couple must be living apart for before applying for divorce from four to two of the last five years.

The service said there were 24 marriages last year where both partners had previously been widowed.

The figures were contained in the service’s annual report for last year, during which it recorded 61,901 births and 32,029 deaths over the course of the year.

In three-quarters of all marriages registered last year the couple were both Irish. In 17 per cent of marriages one of the pair was from outside of Ireland, and in 8 per cent of cases both were non-Irish.

There was a marked dip in the overall number of marriages, with some 1,000 fewer than in the three previous years. One in 10 marriages last year was conducted by a secular body, with this figure now more than double what it was in 2014.

‘Marriages of convenience’

The report noted a clampdown on “marriages of convenience”, where in some cases a non-EU citizen seeks to gain immigration status to remain in Ireland through marriage.

Since August 2015 marriage registrars are legally obliged to notify a superintendent registrar if they suspect an application is a sham marriage. The senior registrar is then obliged to inform the Minister for Justice.

The changes have “had a significant impact on the number of applications to marry received from non-Irish EU citizens wishing to marry non-EU citizens,” the report says.

The number of notifications of an intention to get married between a non-Irish EU national and a non-EU national dropped from 1,584 in 2014 to just 369 last year.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said significant work had been done in recent years to make historic records of marriages, births and deaths available to the public.

“The General Register Office has now digitised all of the historic registers compiled by registrars since 1845 and has released all but the earliest marriage and death records on the irishgenealogy.ie website,” she said. “I plan to have the last remaining historic marriage and death register records available online later this year to complete the digitisation of all State records of this nature.”