Divorce referendum legislation to be introduced to Dáil this month

Electorate to decide whether to reduce waiting period after separation to two years

Differences among Ministers have reportedly emerged about whether the referendum should be introduced, based on an apparent urban/rural divide. Photograph: iStock

Differences among Ministers have reportedly emerged about whether the referendum should be introduced, based on an apparent urban/rural divide. Photograph: iStock

 

Legislation to allow for a referendum on the waiting time for a divorce will be introduced in the Dáil this month.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the legislation on the referendum championed by Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, a family law solicitor, is expected to be published and introduced after the St Patrick’s week recess.

Mr Flanagan said the issue is in the control of the business committee but he said there appeared to be all-party consensus on allowing the referendum go ahead and he paid tribute to Fianna Fáil and other parties for facilitating the legislation.

Differences among Ministers have reportedly emerged about whether the referendum should be introduced, based on an apparent urban/rural divide.

However Mr Flanagan said Government had agreed that the referendum should go ahead and it was a collective Cabinet decision last month.

Questioned

A report in the Sunday Independent suggested Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed questioned the need for a referendum on a social issue when there nobody was demanding it.

The referendum will be about cutting the waiting time for divorce after separation from the current four years to two.

A requirement for a four year separation was written into the Constitution when the electorate voted to allow for divorce in the State.

The Bill has to be passed by the Dáil and Seanad in order for the referendum to go ahead on May 24th the same date as the local and European elections.

Ms Madigan proposed the legislation as a backbencher in 2016.

A referendum commission has been established to be chaired High Court Judge Ms Justice Tara Burns and will have responsibility for the preparation, publication and distribution of impartial explanations about the subject matter of a given referendum proposal.

It is also charged with promoting awareness of the referendum and encouraging the electorate to vote.