Ireland voted by an overwhelming majority to relax its constitutional restriction on divorce, the latest in a series of reforms in the once devout Catholic nation. Source: SBS News.
Some 82 per cent of voters cast their ballots in favour of removing a provision requiring couples to live separately for four out of the previous five years before dissolving their marriage.
The Irish Government has signalled it will bring forward new legislation shortening the requirement to two out of the prior three years.
Irish bishops last week warned that the objective of the referendum was not to support marriage but to “expedite its dissolution”, The Tablet reports.
Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Council for Marriage and Family of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, appealed to voters to reflect deeply on the implications of the referendum which “seeks to expedite the dissolution of marriage”.
Calling on the government to commit resources to marriage preparation and marriage enrichment, he said the common good would be better served by supporting and resourcing couples and families in preparation for and during marriage.
“We believe that incidents of marriage breakdown and divorce could be reduced through the introduction of socio-economic policies which support the family and through long-term education strategies which promote values such as fidelity and commitment,” he said.
The result of the vote comes one year on from the day when 66 per cent of voters cast referendum ballots in favour of repealing the republic’s constitutional ban on abortion.
In October of last year voters also chose to lift a rarely enforced – and oft-ridiculed – constitutional ban on blasphemy.
A further referendum to excise or alter the constitutional article referring to the “woman’s life within the home” is expected to be brought forward soon.