Shifting Sands

Discursive Techniques Adopted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland on Marriages of Convenience


  • Stephanie Hanlon University College Dublin and Carlow College


critical discourse analysis, marriage migration, citizenship, racism, NGOs


The so-called ‘sham’ marriage industry, and approaches to marriages of convenience present a field of discursive meanings in politics and public discourse. In Ireland, policy and legislation between 2006 and 2016 was dominated by a metadiscursive negotiation of terminology relating to the exploitation and abuse of Irish women for immigration purposes, the abuse of the Irish immigration system, and the attack on marriage. The term ‘marriage of convenience’[1] has evolved with many policy collaborators and has been shifting in public and policy discourse. This study presents a dual approach encompassing corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis of the normalization of the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s policies on MoC[2].

This paper has found multiple inconsistencies and contradictions in the ICI’s positions, with evidence of exclusionary rhetoric and racial discrimination in the NGO’s policy on MoC. The meanings and implications of victim and perpetrator continue to shift and change depending on the context and purpose of their articulation, raising clear questions about the ‘re’ - presentation and ‘re’ - location of MoC in immigration policy and legislation. More broadly, it calls for a more critical and open debate that reflects the impacts of restrictive policy on persons involved.

[1]Henceforth referred to as “MoC”.

[2] Henceforth referred to as “ICI”.




How to Cite

Hanlon, S. (2021). Shifting Sands: Discursive Techniques Adopted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland on Marriages of Convenience. TEANGA, the Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, 12, 47–71. Retrieved from