Tánaiste publishes Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2014


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Tánaiste publishes Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2014

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (10th July 2014) published the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014, following Cabinet approval.

The Bill will provide for a wide range of issues relating to the registration of life events in the State. Representations and recommendations have been made by various groups and organisations since the enactment of the Civil Registration Act 2004 and this Bill seeks to address these issues. The General Register Office which administers the Civil Registration Service has identified areas where legislative amendments are required to streamline the service to the general public.

Commenting on the Bill, the Tánaiste said "In the ten years since the enactment of the 2004 Act, society has changed and this Bill provides for a more streamlined service to the public enabling the registration system of life events to better reflect a modern society."

The four principal amendments that will be provided for in the Bill are as follows:

Compulsory registration of father’s name of birth certificates

Where the parents of a child are not married to each other, current legislation does not require the mother or the father to provide the father’s details when registering the birth.  This amendment seeks to address the current position by making the provision of such information compulsory other than in exceptional circumstances;

Marriages of Convenience/Civil Partnerships of Convenience

This amendment aims to introduce provisions that will make such marriages more difficult to contract in the future.  This is to be achieved by making a marriage of convenience an impediment to marriage and allowing a registrar the right to investigate and if he/she forms the opinion that a proposed marriage is such then they can refuse to issue a marriage registration form and inform the relevant immigration authorities. The Bill also provides for better co-operation between the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality in dealing with marriages of convenience. There are similar provisions in the Bill for civil partnerships of convenience;

Record of deaths of Irish persons abroad

This amendment will introduce a record of the deaths of Irish persons who are normally resident in the State who die while on short term absences abroad. A copy of the record of the death may be furnished on request. The document will have no legal standing and will not replace the original foreign death certificate but will give comfort to families who have lost loved ones;

Embassy Marriages and Civil Partnerships

These amendments will allow for the validation of foreign embassy marriages and civil partnerships that have already taken place in Ireland and which are still in existence.

The Tánaiste said "The right of the child to know who both their parents are is a very important right.  In recognising this right the Bill is giving every child a greater sense of identity."

Moving to marriages of convenience the Tánaiste stated that "The issue of marriages of convenience is a complex one. EU citizens and their families have the right to move and reside freely within the territories of the Member States.  These rights also apply to non-EU national spouses of EU nationals.  The right to marry is also particularly protected in the Constitution.  However, these rules are being abused by individuals who are using marriage to gain an automatic right of residency and this Bill will make it more difficult for marriages of convenience to be contracted."

The Tánaiste added "I am pleased to be able to provide a record of deaths abroad so that families who have lost loved ones in other countries can get some comfort and closure by having the death recorded in Ireland."

On embassy marriages and Civil Partnerships the Tánaiste said "Irish society has been enriched by the choices made by people from other countries and cultures to live, work and raise families in Ireland.  In certain instances couples got married or had a civil partnership in their embassy in Ireland.  Unfortunately these marriages and civil partnerships are not valid and so on a once off basis this Bill will validate those marriages and civil partnerships.  There will also be an opt-out for instances where both parties agree that they do not want the marriage or civil partnership validated."

Other Provisions
The Bill also provides for a significant number of amendments to the 2004 Act which will streamline line the procedures of the civil registration service to provide an improved modern service to the public.  These amendments include changes to the registration and re-registration processes.  There is also an extension of the definition of qualified informants to include co-habitants, next of kin, personal representatives and religious superiors.

The Bill provides for increased sharing of information with Government Departments and their agencies so as to improve and better streamline the Government’s interaction with the citizen.

Finally the Bill will provide for access to historical registers of life events to allow on line access via the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s genealogical website to important information regarding our heritage.  The material which will be available is as follows:

Births more than 100 years;

Deaths more than 50 years;

Marriages more than 75 years.

The Tánaiste said "The Government recently launched its Irish Genealogy website which allows for online access to the indexes to the registers of the General Register Office Civil Records.  This represented the first big step in the online availability of historical records which is essential for the development of modern genealogical services.  This Bill provides for the next big step which is to make available online births more than 100 years old, marriages more than 75 years old and deaths more than 50 years old.  I look forward to this phase being made available which will allow us and future generations to access our important information from our past."

ENDS

Last modified:10/07/2014