As many as one in four foreign national taxi drivers stopped at recent illegal immigration checkpoints are suspected of having entered into sham marriages, gardaí believe.
According to the Irish Times, some 110 drivers were stopped; of those, 26 are believed to have paid to marry a woman from Europe whom they had never met so they could secure the right to reside and work in the Republic. All of the men are from outside the EU and gardaí have already revoked the immigration status they had secured when they married European women in the Republic. The men are now appealing that revocation and are permitted to remain in Ireland until their appeals are completed.
Garda sources said the decision to target taxi drivers specifically so their immigration status could be scrutinised was made after unusual patterns were detected in new public service vehicle (PSV) applications. “We noticed a big increase in the number of men from outside the EU applying and it wasn’t clear why this was happening,” said one officer.
Another source said 58 new applications for PSV licences were lodged with the carriage office in January, 40 of which came from men outside the EU. He described this as “way outside the norm”.
The same officer said the increases had been a feature for around 18 months. And when some of the applicants’ immigration histories were checked it emerged they had previously tried to secure status in Europe. It was then decided to target the Ed Sheeran concert in Phoenix Park, Dublin on May 18th at three locations because gardaí knew they could check a lot of taxis quickly at the same locations before news of the checks spread and drivers avoided the area.