Ireland to liberalise divorce laws following referendum

Dublin [Ireland]: People in the Republic of Ireland voted to ease restrictions on divorce laws by an overwhelming majority after the results of a recently held referendum were revealed on Sunday morning.

Results of the referendum, held on Friday, showed that 82 per cent of voters want to change the existing divorce law under which a person can only apply for a divorce after living separately from their spouse for four out of the previous five years, CNN reported.

However, the clause will now be removed, allowing lawmakers to decide on a new separation period.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan took to Twitter on Friday saying the exit polls showing overwhelming support for the change are “very positive news.”

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“I intend moving speedily with legislation to cut waiting time and thereby reduce upset and trauma on couples and children where marriages have irreconcilably broken down,” Flanagan wrote.

In March, Flanagan said the government intends to reduce the separation period to two years so that both the parties can “move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe.”

In addition, the new law is expected to provide cases of domestic abuse with a shorter divorce process through which victims can protect themselves, and their children, from continued abuse from a former spouse, according to the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Divorce was only legalised in Ireland in 1995 by a small majority of people, nearly 50.3 per cent.

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Friday’s referendum has become the latest in a series of measures reflecting the modern Irish society that has been recently questioned, and rejected for the stringent historical role of the Catholic Church’s doctrine on its institutions.

Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote, with more than 60 per cent voting yes in a referendum in 2015.

Earlier this year, the country opened its first abortion services following the 2018 vote that repealed a constitutional amendment that had placed a near-ban on terminations.

“Ireland has really grown into a more tolerant and progressive society over the last 24 years,” Irish Senator Catherine Noone said on social media following the Friday’s referendum result.


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