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Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Floating Voter: Divorce Referendum 'about showing compassion and humanity to people whose marriages have broken down', says minister Josepha Madigan

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

Allison Bray

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan says the Divorce Referendum is needed because there are no guarantees in life – or marriage.

“People often don’t realise that divorce is one of the most emotionally-traumatic devastating experiences for people. It takes them years to get over it,” she told Independent.ie's Floating Voter Podcast.

Despite being happily married herself for 17 years, Ms Madigan contends “nobody knows sometimes what’s around the corner”.

“This is about showing compassion and humanity to those people who find themselves in situations where their marriage has broken down,” she said.

However under the proposed amendment to the Constitution, there must still  be no chance of a reconciliation when a divorce is granted.

“There has to be irretrievable breakdown of their marriage, so no prospect of reconciliation. That is still going to remain in the Constitution and also proper provision will be made for both spouses and any dependent children. Those comforts, if you like, are still going be there.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan made proposals. Photo: Arthur Carron
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan made proposals. Photo: Arthur Carron

“The time limit, I think is reasonable,” she said of the proposed two-year mandatory separation period.

“It’s in line with other jurisdictions. If you think that Italy and Greece and other jurisdictions have no time limits at all. Spain is a year for example. So I think two years is a sufficient amount of time. It’s a reasonable amount of time. One year I thought was a bit quick. When I did the research on this, the end of a marriage is a grief for people…”

The former family lawyer said there were fears during the last Divorce Referendum of a subsequent deluge of divorce cases, which never happened.

“We still have the lowest marital breakdown (rate) in Ireland. It’s one in ten.

“I don’t see that happening. I think one of the great things about the Irish people is that we really respect marriage.

"This is about respecting marriage. But it’s also about helping those people who find themselves in a situation where their marriage hasn’t worked out.”

The question that will be put to voters will be a simple yes or no answer regarding removing the time limit out of the Constitution and whether they support a uniform approach to the recognition of foreign divorces in Ireland, she confirmed.

Read more here; Yes vote will lead to more compassionate divorce law – Fine Gael

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