Catholic World News News Feature
Divorce Becomes Legal In Ireland On Thursday February 27, 1997
DUBLIN (CWN) - Divorce became officially legal in Ireland on Thursday ending the Catholic nation's ban on the practice which had been in force since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1921.
Lawyers and court officials said there was no great rush of people seeking to take advantage of the change just yet. "Many have decided not to bother for the time being," family lawyer Ni Chuluchain was quoted as saying in The Guardian newspaper of London, which is distributed in Ireland. There are an estimated 90,000 separated people in this country of 3.5 million that could file for divorce, but she expressed surprise at how few had come forward so far.
Irish divorce is still not as easily obtainable as in other countries. The constitutional amendment that went into force today allows divorce if the couple have been separated four of the previous five years, and if there is "no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation." Neither party need be found at fault.
The 1995 referendum to amend this provision of the constitution was narrowly approved by 50.23 percent of the voters -- a 9,118-ballot margin out of 1.6 million cast.