Divorce and the meaning of marriage


Sir, – On May 24th, we will be asked to further diminish and discredit what remains of our country’s legal understanding of marriage.

Fine Gael seem determined to erase entirely the concept of marriage from the aspirational landscape of young people, leaving them bereft of this most beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling, and necessary institution for human flourishing, happiness, and indeed the continuation of the human race.

Marriage is not primarily based upon a commitment to one’s own happiness, as we find in cohabitation and civil-partnerships. What sets it apart is that it involves the couple’s renunciation of their autonomy as individuals, in favour of taking on responsibility for creating a home, and where possible, as part of this conjugal vocation, founding a family.

During multiple referendums (divorce and same-sex), the Government repeatedly assured us of their commitment to strengthen and support marriage. Yet in the last 12 months it has withdrawn its support from Cork’s local Marriage Advisory Agency (forcing it to shut down) and it has also threatened the funding of family centres elsewhere.

Unfortunately, our Government is pursuing policies that are ambivalent to the human cost of their undermining of marriage: homelessness, mental health issues, addiction, even violence, abuse and neglect.

There is no demand for this constitutional change, aimed at eliminating the pause period before issuing divorce proceedings. It can only add to the pain and emotional turmoil, when couples are most in need of comfort, clarity and confidence. As they work through efforts to renew the relationship, legal professionals will be emboldened to advise them to cut this process short and to speed down the path of repudiating their spouse.

Vote No. – Yours, etc,