Tuesday 20 August 2019

Minister denies complacency about divorce referendum

Culture and Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: Peter Cavanagh Photography
Culture and Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: Peter Cavanagh Photography
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has insisted there is no complacency in Government over the outcome of the forthcoming divorce referendum.

The Government's campaign for a vote in favour of dropping the four-year period parties must live apart before they can get divorced isn't being launched until next Monday - less than three weeks before the country goes to the polls.

However, Ms Madigan, whose private members bill proved the catalyst for the referendum, has insisted the result is not being taken for granted.

"We have a lot of events coming up where we will be discussing divorce and why people should come out and vote. There is absolutely no complacency about it," she said.

The minister was speaking after launching 'Divorce in Ireland: The Case for Reform', a report by family law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon.

The report, written for the Law Society's child and family law committee, is in favour of the Government's plans to reduce the living-apart period to a minimum of two years.

Ms Madigan said there were some people who believed the proposed reform doesn't go far enough. But she said it would not have been possible to get cross-party support for a more radical approach.

She said the Government had "to look at incremental change rather than going in too bombastically".

The minister said what is proposed is in line with several other European jurisdictions, such as France, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark Norway, Sweden and Scotland.

Earlier Dr Shannon said the report was not about undermining marriage, but about displaying compassion for people seeking to divorce.

As part of his research, he found most parties seeking a divorce wanted to have the proceedings dealt with as soon as possible.

Dr Shannon said the current four-year period can lead to a duplication in legal expenses through judicial separation and then divorce. He said lengthy adversarial proceedings can also impact on the welfare of children.

Irish Independent

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