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Sunday 20 October 2019

Divorce referendum passes with 82.1pc in favour of law change

Ballots are checked at the RDS
Ballots are checked at the RDS

The referendum to ease restrictions on divorce has passed, with 82.1pc overall voting 'Yes' and 17.9pc voting 'No'.

The final results came in from Galway city in the early hours of the morning.

It was put to voters along with the local and European elections on Friday and passed in every constituency.

The divorce regime had not changed in more than 20 years when the ban was first lifted.

Kindness

"I think it's a really strong endorsement from the Irish people for the referendum and it demonstrates their kindness and their understanding of the situation people find themselves in when they are separating or divorcing," Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said.

"I think there's a deep well of kindness in the Irish people.

"It wasn't about rocking the system. It was about humanising it. I think the people have shown they have a solidarity with people going through marital breakdown, through separation and divorce."

Ms Madigan proposed cutting waiting times for divorce, steering a private members' bill through the Dail soon after she got elected which culminated in Friday's referendum.

The result means the Government can introduce legislation that will allow couples to divorce sooner rather than later.

Currently, a couple must live apart for four out of the previous five years in order to apply for a divorce. The explicit constitutional prohibition on a person remarrying in the State who has obtained a foreign divorce that is not recognised under Irish law will be removed.

Limbo

It will still be prohibited for a person to remarry in Ireland unless their foreign divorce is recognised under Irish law.

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, said he intends to propose laws to make the rules regarding foreign divorces more consistent.

Supporters of the referendum said parting couples could be stuck in limbo while waiting to finalise their separation in divorce, a period in which could increase hostility.

Critics of the proposal warned that the changes could ultimately lead to "quickie divorce" in Ireland.

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