Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 commences in Dáil Éireann

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Minister of State Kevin Humphreys introduces legislation to strengthen Ireland's Civil Registration Service

On introducing the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 to Dáil Éireann today (Tuesday, 7th October 2014), the Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Kevin Humphreys, T.D. said that the legislation allows for the further modernisation of the civil registration service to better reflect the needs of Irish society as it is today and into the future.

Commenting on the new primary legislation, Minister Humphreys said: "This Bill provides for a number of significant changes to the Civil Registration legislation and it places the registration service in line with the new modern Ireland we live in. The civil registration service deals with the registration of "life events" such as births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths which affects us all. It is crucial that the system is responsive and evolves to address the wide variety of situations that can arise."

The Bill provides for a significant new policy provision with regard to the compulsory registration of the father's name on the birth certificate. Minister Humphreys said "This is the first time this principle has been brought into legislation. This will underpin the rights of the child under EU legislation to have access to the details of his or her identity. Put simply, that means knowing who their parents are. It will be a step towards ensuring full and accurate particulars are registered at the time of birth which will be of significant benefit both to the child and future generations".

The Bill contains provisions to prevent marriages of convenience. The Minister said "The issue of marriages of convenience is complex. The right to marry is a basic right. Marriage, as an institution, has particular protection under our Constitution. Our duty is to protect the institution of marriage in legislation and we aim to strengthen this by introducing provisions in this Bill which makes it more difficult to broker a marriage of convenience in the State".

The Bill introduces a provision to allow for the registration of the death of Irish citizens who die while on short-term absences abroad. It also clarifies the definition of a "place open to the public" in relation to outdoor venue for marriage and civil partnership ceremonies.

The Bill further provides for the validation of marriages and civil partnerships which took place in Embassies in Ireland.

Minister Humphreys said "The registers of life events are very important public records. They have a significant impact on the lives of Ireland's citizens. It is vital that they are robust and accurate. My intention is that the civil registration service will continue to serve society and the public to a high standard and will be equipped to respond to our rapidly changing society."

The Bill was passed by Seanad Éireann in September. It is intended that the legislation will be enacted by the end of the year.

The main provisions of the Bill are:-

Compulsory Registration of the father's name on birth certificates
Where parents of a child are not married to each other, the current legislation does not require the mother or the father to provide the father's details when registering the birth. This new legislation makes it compulsory to register the father's name on the birth certificate except in some exceptional circumstances where it may not be feasible to do this.

Marriages of Convenience and Civil Partnerships of Convenience
EU citizens and their families have the right to move and reside freely within the territories of Member States. These rights also apply to non-EU national spouses of EU nationals. Marriage, as an Institution, has particular protection under the Constitution. However, these rules are being abused by some individuals who are using marriage laws in Ireland to gain an automatic right of residency in Europe. This Bill makes it more difficult to broker a marriage of convenience in the State. The provisions in the Bill also apply to Civil Partnerships of Convenience.

Record of deaths of Irish people who die abroad
Families of Irish people who were ordinarily resident within the State within 5 years prior to their death and who die while on short-term absences abroad will now have the option if they so wish, to record the death in Ireland. The document will not replace the original foreign death certificate but it will bring some comfort to these families.

Embassy Marriages and Civil Partnerships
In certain instances, couples have married or entered a civil partnership in their country's embassy in Ireland. These marriages and civil partnerships were not carried out in accordance with Irish marriage law or civil partnership law and accordingly, they are not valid. This legislation, on a once-off basis, will validate those marriages and civil partnerships that have already taken place in Ireland and which are still in existence. It also provides an opt-out for couples where both parties agree that they do not want the marriage or civil partnership validated.

Solemnisation of marriages in public places
The legislation defines "a place that is open to the public" in respect of the conducting of marriages and civil partnerships in a public place. To protect both parties to the marriage or civil partnership this Bill requires that the outdoor venue must be readily accessible to the public. The purpose of this is to avoid the possibility of coercion, fraud or lack of capacity on the part of the couple involved, to prevent marriages or civil partnerships taking place in secret and to give an opportunity for any objections.


Last modified:07/10/2014