Try telling children from broken homes divorce is compassionate
The new year publication of selected State papers from 30 years before is an annual invitation to us to look down our noses on our recent past. We're invited to look back in horror at the battles of only a few decades ago over the likes of contraception, or sex education, or in this latest round, divorce. That's because 1986 was the year of our first divorce referendum.
That year, Ireland rejected divorce by an even bigger margin than the vote in favour of same-sex marriage two years ago. The tide was running only one way, however. Liberals were never going to sit back and accept the 1986 result, no matter how decisive it was. The people who really run this country, and by then it wasn't the Church, wanted divorce and they were going to get it.
The 1986 State papers, released a few days ago, give some insights into the thinking of civil servants and others at the time around the referendum of that year.