Push to inform public as vote on divorce length set for May

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Cormac McQuinn

The Government has set up a commission to provide information on this summer's referendum on divorce waiting times and encourage the electorate to vote.

In May, voters will be asked if they want to hand power to politicians for setting the "pause period" before a couple can formally end their marriage. At present, a couple seeking a divorce need to live apart for four or five years.

The people are to be asked if the minimum "living apart" period should simply be removed from the Constitution, with the Oireachtas given responsibility for setting the term through legislation.

A proposed law drawn up by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, which allows for a two-year period, is set to form the basis of legislation to be progressed by the Government if the referendum is carried.

The Government announced last night that an order has been made to set up an independent statutory referendum commission for the purpose of the forthcoming referendum.

High Court judge Ms Justice Tara Burns has been appointed as chairperson and other members include Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy and the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall.

The functions of the commission include publishing an explanation the referendum proposal, promoting awareness of the referendum and encouraging the electorate to vote.