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Divorce vote didn't undermine marriage, it respected it

Josepha Madigan


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'I believe marriage remains a cornerstone of our society' (stock photo)

'I believe marriage remains a cornerstone of our society' (stock photo)

'I believe marriage remains a cornerstone of our society' (stock photo)

On January 17, 1997, the Republic of Ireland legally granted a divorce for the very first time following a referendum two years earlier.

As it happened, that first divorce was granted to a terminally ill man who wished to marry his new partner. The law at the time required that man to have lived apart from his estranged wife for four out of the previous five years. He wouldn't have known if he would live to see the divorce come through.

As we approach the first anniversary of the divorce referendum, passed by 82pc of voters and cutting the waiting time for divorce from four to two years, it's hard to believe the referendum 25 years ago was not about issues like waiting periods, but about the introduction of divorce as an option to those who wished to pursue it.