16 June 2017

Call for legal clarity on rights of polygamous families

Urgent attention should be given to introducing legislation to clarify what rights and obligations apply to polygamous families living in Ireland, a Supreme Court judge has said.

The comment by Mr Justice Frank Clarke was made in a ruling where the court found that the first marriage of a Muslim man who had married two women in Lebanon, as is allowed there, was a valid marriage in Irish law.

The second marriage, the court ruled, could not be recognised here but that did not compel the State to “deny all legal effect to polygamous marriages in all contexts”.

The man and his two wives, and a number of children by both women, all live in the State.

“There is no particular reason why a marriage should not be given recognition for certain purposes, as has been done in many instances in the courts of the United Kingdom,” Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley said in the main judgment.

She was supported by Mr Justice Frank Clarke, who said the courts in the UK, France and Germany, all of which had significant Muslim populations, have had to deal with questions about the rights of people in polygamous marriages that were lawful in the countries where they had occurred. [THE IRISH TIMES] Read more