Thousands of foreign couples who married at their country’s embassies in the Republic over the past three years are being told their marriages are invalid and illegal.
The problem has sparked a diplomatic row between the Government and several EU states, which have asked Spain – current holder of the EU presidency – to mediate on their behalf. The decision by the Government also affects the citizens of non-EU states, whose embassies conduct marriage ceremonies.
Last week the General Register Office wrote to all foreign embassies informing them that marriages performed by diplomatic missions were not recognised as marriages unless they conformed to Irish law. The note said marriages would not be legal unless they were performed by an authorised registrar and took place in a registered building which was open to the public.