The government has been told that it may be risking causing offence to Muslims living in Ireland who wish to engage in polygamous marriages.
Senior department officials at the Department of Social Protection said procedures where children born to second or concurrent wives were recorded as illegitimate could cause offence. In a special briefing note prepared for the minister, Joan Burton, the officials warned that Muslim men here may believe that Irish procedures were ‘‘disrespectful’’ to their religion.
The move follows concerns by the High Court over the acceptance of certain marriages as valid when celebrated in certain countries under so-called ‘native law and custom’.
The High Court’s concern follows a case brought by a Lebanese man last year, in which he sought to obtain recognition for a second concurrent marriage, both of which he had entered into while living in Lebanon.
I n its judgment, the High Court ruled that marriages entered into in certain countries were not valid as they could be polygamous.
However, senior public servants at the department told the incoming minister that the issue could cause problems among the traditional Muslim community here.
The issue raised concerns over the registration of births in such marriages, according to the civil servants.
The officials said that men and women in such marriages could be offended by labelling their children as being born out of wedlock.
‘‘In the case of registration of births, such births will have to be treated as non-marital births and the relevant procedures for registration of such births will have to be followed, including recording of civil status as ‘single’,” according to the memo.
‘‘This has potential to cause offence to couples concerned. They may well view the procedures as being disrespectful of their status, as they may understandably believe themselves to be validly married in accordance with their culture and religious beliefs,” it read.