Almost 25 years after divorce was legalised in Ireland, a new referendum has been scheduled to define the procedures to accomplish it. The public consultation takes place at the same time as the forthcoming European elections between 23rd and 26th May, 2019. Among the changes is the reduction of the waiting time for the formalisation of the divorce process, which today is 4 years and could be reduced to 2 years. This referendum is considered one of the five most important in the country.
The Irish have already decided on the fifth amendment of the Constitution in 1972, because it removed the Catholic church from a privileged position as well as recognising other religious denominations. In addition, the possibility of the use of capital punishment as a practice, even in an emergency situation was also chosen by popular vote. One of Ireland’s most controversial, innovative and participatory referendums was what enabled same-sex marriage to take place in 2015. It was the first time that a state legalised egalitarian marriage by popular vote. Another equally controversial referendum was the legalisation of abortion, carried out last year. The approval of the changes in the law was 65.4%, considering that 2.15 million people gave their opinion on the subject. Nowadays, abortion is legalised to Ireland under less rigid rules.
Divorce versus Church
Ireland is considered one of the countries with the highest Catholic tradition in the world and this makes everything related to church matters considered controversial. Meanwhile, the Irish voted in 1995 in favor of legalising divorce despite opposition from the Church in another referendum. This new consultation, which comes later this month, will propose an amendment to the Constitution to reduce the period during which the spouses must live apart to divorce from four to two years.
This issue is so controversial that there has already been an attempt to propose the removal of the constitutional prohibition of divorce in 1986, when it was submitted to a referendum, but it was rejected. You can learn more about the referendum that changes the rules of divorce in the country by clicking here.
By Rodrigo Valadares