As Fine Gael's Campaign Director for the Divorce Referendum I was proud to officially launch the Fine Gael YES campaign for the upcoming referendum on divorce, along with Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan.
This referendum will ask voters to make a compassionate and common sense change in order to reduce the waiting time for couples whose marriage has broken down before they can apply for divorce. If the referendum passes, the Government and opposition parties support reducing the mandatory separation period from 4 out of the preceding 5 years to 2 out of the preceding 3 years.
This referendum is about easing distress on couples whose marriages have already broken down. It is not about introducing quick divorces or undermining marriage.
• Divorce can involve emotional and financial distress for those involved, including family members and friends. The Constitution should not punish people in this difficult process by making it harder to move on.
• The only change proposed is in relation to the mandatory separation period for divorcing couples. This is a moderate, but significant change. Divorces will still be administered by the courts and proper provision for spouses and children will still be required.
• A two year separation period is in line with many other European countries. Ireland has a low divorce rate and this will not change after the referendum. Based on figures from Eurostat in 2015, Ireland and Kosovo have the joint lowest divorce rate in Europe – 0.7 per 1,000 persons.
• We are also asking the people to agree to clarify and modernise the constitutional clause governing recognition of foreign divorces (Article 41.3.3°- which dates from 1937) so that the Oireachtas can legislate to apply greater consistency to the rules governing recognition of divorces granted under the civil law of another state.
If you require any further information on the issues involved in the referendum, please see the link below.