20th May 2019 | Justice, Press Releases

Green Party calls for Yes vote in divorce referendum to reduce living apart time requirement and to recognise foreign divorces


The Green Party is backing a Yes vote in the divorce referendum on Friday 24th May 2019. The referendum, if passed, will change the rules about how long people must be living apart before applying for a divorce.

This referendum also aims to reform foreign divorce recognition in Ireland. Under the Constitution, anyone who has obtained a foreign divorce which isn’t recognised in Ireland cannot legally remarry here during the lifetime of their spouse.

“Forcing people to live apart for four out of five years before they can divorce undermines people’s ability to move on with their lives. When the Irish people voted to introduce divorce, the idea was to grant people a right to remarry. The four year period is too great a barrier to people who wish to exercise this right ,” says Cllr Roderic O’Gorman, the Green Party spokesperson for Justice. “It’s another case of a part of the Irish Constitution interfering with people’s personal lives in a way that is out of step with Irish voters. I’m delighted to see polls which suggest this referendum is on its way to passing, but I hope people don’t get complacent about it passing. We need a strong Yes vote on the divorce referendum.”

“Ireland has changed a huge amount since 1995 and forcing couples to remain married for five years after the relationship has broken down is deeply unjust,” emphasises O’Gorman. “In recent years we have overwhelmingly voted through progressive referendums which have made Ireland better – a Yes vote on divorce will continue this trend.”

  • The ballot paper on May 24th is a particularly busy one. Voters are being asked to vote for local councillors, MEPs and in some areas directly-elected mayors. There is a danger that knowledge about the divorce referendum could get lost amid all these important campaigns.
  • In 1995, Ireland passed divorce by the tiniest of margins – 50.3%. That referendum has led to the current situation where someone has to be separated for four of the previous five years before they can apply for a divorce. This referendum will remove this arbitrary and burdensome timeframe from the constitution and allow the Oireachtas to decide a new time frame.
  • The government has said they will adjust this timeframe to 2 years if the referendum passes.