1995 – In a constitutional vote, a tiny majority vote to revoke the ban on divorce in Ireland.

Ireland voted narrowly to lift the ban on divorce enshrined in its constitution for more than half a century. Results tallied from a nationwide referendum showed that 50.3 percent of voters favoured removing the prohibition, placed in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic republic’s founding charter in 1937 in conformity with church doctrine.

While the losers spoke of a possible court challenge, they also conceded that they had lost the historic contest. The constitutional amendment approved by the vote allowed spouses who had been living apart for four of the previous five years to divorce on grounds of “no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.”

Supporters of divorce called for the unshackling of individual rights from religious law, and opponents contended that divorce would unravel Ireland’s unique “family fabric” and send the country hurtling down the road to societal disintegration.

The Catholic Church, from Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa down to Ireland’s parish priests, energised the ‘No’ vote along with thousands of activists who claimed no religious motive.

Irish divorce was designed for 20 years ago, when people were afraid that divorce would be the scourge of society. Then and now, marital commitment and the willingness to put up with unhappiness in order to stay married are in the Irish DNA. People stay married for many years longer than they should. They’ve driven each other mad and are at the point of losing their minds by the time they consider divorce, which can take four to five years.

The Irish divorce is actually the barring order, which can go on for years and undermines the possibility of ending the marriage in a more positive way.


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