Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 March 2018

Is Catholic Ireland dead? Poll shows farmers back pre-nups and ditch weekly mass-going

72pc of farmers say pre-nuptial agreements should have a legal standing in Ireland

Currently prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in Ireland and there has not been much case law in Ireland dealing with them
Currently prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in Ireland and there has not been much case law in Ireland dealing with them

Margaret Donnelly and Ciaran Moran

This year marks 20 years since divorce was legalised in Ireland and its impact continues to be contentious with a new poll showing the majority of farmers agree that pre-nuptial agreements should be legally binding.

Ireland continues to record the lowest divorce rate in Europe, at 0.6 per 1,000 population, but concerns over the possible fall out on land ownership continues to worry those in the farming community.

Research from Macra na Feirme shows that even within families, decisions on land transfer are generally addressed quietly or indeed not addressed until totally necessary or forced due to a family crisis.

Currently prenuptial agreements do not have a legal standing in Ireland, but common law gives strong rights to couples who have lived together . Any couple that has lived together for five years have substantial family law rights.

Respondents to the survey conducted at livestock marts throughout Ireland in recent weeks showed overwhelming support of pre-nuptial agreements with 72pc saying they should have a legal standing in Ireland.

Just 15pc said they should not have legal standing, and 13pc were unsure.

Of the over 1,000 respondents to the survey a total of 67pc of people over 65 years of age agreed that they should have a legal standing, while 83pc of 18-34 year old did.

Fine Gael voters reflected the national average sentiment on pre-nuptials, with 71pc supporting them, while 74pc of Fianna Fail supporters agreed pre-nuptial agreements should have a legal standing.

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The survey also asked interviewees whether they go to mass/church every week or not and 60pc of respondents said they go to mass or church every week, while 40pc said they did not go every week.

However, there is a stark contrast between different age groups, with 55pc of 18-34 year olds saying they do not go to mass/church every week, compared to 81pc of those over 65 years old who say they do.

Fine Gael voters were more likely to go (67pc) than Fianna Fail (60pc) voters.

The sentiment recorded around mass/church going reflected a fall off in faith in the institutions, rather than religion. “I used to go but the institution of the Catholic Church has had too many scandals,” one said. 

Recently published data from the CSO census shows that while Ireland remains a predominantly Catholic country, the percentage of the population who identified as Catholic on the census has fallen sharply from 84.2pc in 2011 to 78.3pc in 2016.

There has been a corresponding rise in the number with no religion which grew by 73.6pc from 269,800 to 468,400, an increase of 198,600.

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