Referendum on 'quickie' divorces being considered

Lack of opposition could mean that the country votes on divorces again before abortion referendum

Divorce, Ireland, waiting time, reduction, Josepha Madigan, private members' bill

A No Divorce poster in Dublin in 1995 | Image:

Irish voters may get a referendum on quicker divorces.

Currently, the constitution requires that married couples be separated for four years before qualifying for divorce. Josepha Madigan, a Fine Gael TD, has proposed reducing this to two years. Support for her private member’s bill is gaining momentum in Leinster House.

“I’m encouraged by what people are saying to me,” said Madigan, a family-law solicitor. "The taoiseach and frances Fitzgerald [the justice minister] are supporting it. I have spoken to them both."

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar is also backing the bill. "It's something we'll have to discuss around the cabinet table but I think there's a lot of merit."

The Sunday Times claims a lack of opposition to the changes could mean that the country votes on divorces again before voting on abortion.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik says long waiting times for divorces were strategic.

"It was seen as a way of ensuring the Divorce Referendum [in 1995] passed", she said. "Many of us, especially lawyers had real issue at the time with this - that it was placing this unnecessary hurdle right into the constitution."

Iona Institute director David Quinn said the Catholic think-tank is not opposed to the bill.

Fianna Fáil will discuss its position on the bill at its front bench meeting this week.

Ms Madigan said the bill will have its second stage in the Dáil next month.