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Seanad backs motion to end child weddings

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A MOTION asking the Government to change the law which allows under-18s to marry has passed through the Seanad with full party support, writes Michael Staines.

Currently the legal age of marriage in Ireland is 18; however, it is still possible to apply to the circuit court for an exemption to the rule.

The motion was tabled by Senator Ivana Bacik who said that keeping the exemption in place could lead to young girls being coerced into entering marriage against their will.

The senator said that although forced marriage can be a problem for people of all ages, minors are particularly at risk.

"They have no rights in law so that is a real difficulty," said Ms Bacik. "They are much more open to intimidation or coercion by family."

The motion was seconded by independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout, who said she believes that we have a responsibility to ensure our laws are robust enough to withstand any pressure for forced or early child marriages. "For me, looking at Ireland, I think we need to send a clear signal out. Why are we having exemptions?" she said.

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