Analysis of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2018 results (released November 2019)

The latest Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) report published on 28 November 2019 shows that lone parent families continue to be the poorest families with children in this State. They endure the highest rates of all types of poverty for families (‘at risk’, ‘deprivation’ and ‘consistent’ poverty).

While One Family welcomes the drop in rates since last year, the ‘at risk’ and ‘consistent’ poverty rate drops are not statistically significant and continue to keep one-parent families trapped in poverty.

Numerous Government and independently commissioned reports have identified the issues and offered similar conclusions – lone parents need targeted supports to help them and their children out of poverty.  While we welcome measures in Budget 2020 that offered supports to working lone parents more needs to be done.

Creating a child-centred response to poverty, which includes full recognition of diverse family forms, will stop the extreme inequality between different types of families in Irish society, as we outline in our Pre-Budget submission 2020.

At risk of poverty rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult and children aged under 18 have the highest at risk of poverty rate at 33.5%. This rate is 9.9% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parents are three and a half times as likely to be at risk of poverty as two-parent households.

Definition of At Risk of Poverty: Households with incomes below 60% of the national median income of €264 per week / €13, 723 per annum are at risk of poverty.

Deprivation rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult and children aged under 18 had the highest deprivation rate at 42.7%. This rate is 14.3% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parent families are almost three as likely to be living in enforced deprivation as two-parent families.
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State.

Lone parents continue to struggle to meet living costs for themselves and their children every day. Housing, food, heating and clothing costs continue to put lone-parents under considerable stress, with the costs of schooling adding to this burden. Ireland is not a poor country and government needs to introduce targeted supports for one-parent families. Government commitments through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures strategy to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 must be met if these trends are to be reversed in a stable and consistent manner.

Definition of Deprivation: Households that are systematically financially marginalised from availing of the goods and services considered the norm for most people in society are considered to be enduring ‘deprivation’.   Deprivation is the inability to afford at least two of the eleven basic deprivation indicators outlined below. Furthermore, experiencing two or more of these indicators, for example, going without a substantial meal for  24 hours and being cold because it is too expensive to heat a home, creates ‘enforced deprivation’ for many lone-parent households.

  1. Two pairs of strong shoes
  2. A warm waterproof overcoat
  3. Buy new (not second-hand) clothes
  4. Eat meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day
  5. Have a roast joint or its equivalent once a week
  6. Had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money
  7. Keep the home adequately warm
  8. Buy presents for family or friends at least once a year
  9. Replace any worn out furniture
  10. Have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month
  11. Have a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight for entertainment

Consistent poverty rates for lone parents

  • In 2018, households with one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 19.2%. This rate is 5.0% for households with two adults with 1-3 children aged under 18. Lone parents are almost four times as likely to be living in consistent poverty as two-parent households.

Definition of Consistent Poverty:  Households living with incomes below 60% of the national median income of €240 per week, and experiencing deprivation based on the 11 deprivation indicators outlined above, are living in consistent poverty.

How Poverty Traps:

Time plays a role in poverty. We know that the longer any lone-parent family is exposed to an ‘at risk of poverty’ category, the more likely they are to start experiencing enforced deprivation. These two types of poverty combined then force lone parent families into ‘consistent poverty’.  Consistent poverty is living in a poverty trap, where the daily and weekly living is nearly always living ‘on the back foot’, never able to plan head, participate in social life easily, and are usually always in some type of debt. (See EAPN for further poverty analyses: https://www.eapn.ie/poverty/understanding-poverty/)

Read our Press Release on the SILC results:

One-parent families remain the most consistently poor families with children in this state

[Dublin, Thursday 28 November] The latest Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC 2018) results  show that one-parent families are now four times as likely than two-parent households to live in consistent poverty. While One Family welcomes the drop in both ‘at risk’ and ‘deprivation’ poverty rates since last year, ‘consistent’ poverty rate drops are not statistically significant at 1.5%,  and continue to keep one-parent families locked in poverty.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, says. “Hidden behind these figures are parents struggling to put food on the table and clothes on children’s backs, keeping them in school. The SILC report reflects what we are hearing daily through our helpline and through our family support services. Parents and children are being crushed by poverty. While there were some welcome measures in Budget 2020 the consistent poverty rate remains too high. Repeated Government  and independently commissioned reports have set out what needs to be done so now Government just need to act.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, says: “Lone parents continue to struggle to meet the most basic costs of living including housing, food, heating and clothes. This is unacceptable and should not be normalised. While we welcome the drop in enforced deprivation rates, we note that consistent poverty remains a core problem. This needs an whole-of-Government response to be reversed. Government need to do more if it’s to meet its own target of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020.

In 2018, individuals living in households where there was one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 19.2% or nearly a fifth of all one-parent families. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 5% for two-parent households. We know the causes of poverty in one-parent families largely arise from structural inequality. Government know the resolution to this problem is to develop these structural supports and they now need to act.

One-in-four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish. It is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Link to SILC 2018

Link to One Family Pre-Budget Submission

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Some positive moves to be welcomed but this falls short of the required Children’s Budget

Wednesday 9 October 2019

One Family welcomes the targeted measures in Budget 2020 for working lone parents and the commitment to fund research into child maintenance. Specifically, we welcome the targeted increases to help make work pay for lone parents and that restore payments to the ‘pre-cuts’ 2012 levels. These are: an increase of €15 in income disregards for the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Jobseekers Transition Allowance (JST); an increase of €10 to the income threshold for the Working Family Payment for families with up to 3 children; and increases in the Qualified Child Increase (QCI) by €3 for over 12s and €2 for under 12s.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said “We are pleased that Government has been listening to us and our colleagues over the past year and have implemented some of the specific and targeted measures that we looked for. However they did not deliver a Children’s Budget to support Ireland’s poorest children out of their daily poverty and they did not use the evidence available to them when making all decisions.”

One Family notes there are still inequalities in how one-parent families are treated in the social welfare code when compared to two-parent families and these issues need to be resolved as a matter of urgency. Kiernan continued: “we know the vast majority of Ireland’s poorest children live in one-parent families therefore we must target supports at them. Unnecessary barriers need to be urgently removed to ensure that lone parents are treated fairly particularly in relation to eligibility requirements for the Working Family Payment and the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance. It is just not right to let children’s lives be restricted by poverty”.

Kiernan welcomed the commitment to the establishment of a statutory Child Maintenance Agency saying: “We are pleased that Minister Doherty has committed €150,000 to research this important issue. We hope this will include robust stakeholder engagement and feed into existing evidence and work on child maintenance.”

Kiernan also welcomed the fact that Minister Zappone listened to the concerns about lone parents at risk of losing out in the new National Childcare Scheme saying: “It is reassuring that lone parents can now stay on existing subsidies until August 2021 if this is helpful to them. An additional five hours per week for those on income-based subsidies is also something we looked for and have received.”

But we continue to have deep concerns about the impact of the Budget on the most vulnerable children. If we enter into a No Deal Brexit, which seems the most likely scenario, these families, who are already held back through poverty, will slip further behind. Brexit may well be an economic tsunami for them – particularly those families in rural Ireland where the economic impact of a No Deal may be most felt. Increases to carbon tax and knock-on effects on fuel and energy use are a real issue and will push the vulnerable into further poverty.

–        

-Ends  –

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Link to One Family Pre-Budget Submission:

Link to One Family Child Maintenance Paper:

Link to One Family Budget Comparison document:

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

‘First responder shouldn’t be a solicitor’ – Support services for separating families urgently needed across Ireland

[Monday, September 16, 2019] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called for the urgent rollout of specialist support services for families who are going through the long process of separating. The call comes as the charity launched its Annual Review for 2018 which has seen an 82% increase in demand for its services compared with 2017.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “Since 2017, there has been an 82% increase in requests for our services with a large spike in demand for services for families separating. Services such as our Tusla-funded, Separating Well for Children project show the depth of demand that exists from people going through the private family law system and similar services are urgently required nationwide. Through this project we have found ourselves frequently bridging gaps in services that exist for vulnerable separated parents and their children. This project deescalates the conflict within the family using mediation, parenting support as well as creative therapies for children, allowing parents to put aside their own grievances and focus on the welfare of their children.When families separate the first responder shouldn’t be a solicitor – instead child-focussed, affordable supports should be available locally”.

Ms. Kiernan added, “In 2018, we delivered over 8,430 intensive in-person supports, while our askonefamily helpline received over 4,000 queries, we would urge anyone who needs advice when separating to call our helpline on lo-call 1890 662 212. Demand for our services has never been higher partly due to the increased number of people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. But it also reflects the poverty rates amongst lone parents who, because of spiralling homelessness and deprivation rates, are relying more and more on our services. We anticipate that demand for our services will increase in the years ahead and the Government must now look to urgently fund specialised support services for separated families in crisis throughout the country.”

/Ends.

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharingparenting, or separating.

Key statistics from the One Family’s Annual Review 2018:

  • 82% increase in service delivery from 2017.
  • 8,430 intensive in-person supports.
  • 11 policy submissions over 65 policy representations.
  • Nearly 4,100 queries received through the Askonefamily helpline.
  • 29% of queries related to family life and parenting.
  • 1,841 counselling sessions were delivered an increase of 49% on 2017.
  • Over 1,000 parenting services delivered.
  • 40% of parenting participants were Dads.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • There were 218,817 (25.4%) family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent. This is an increase of over 3,500 families since 2011. Almost 90,000 were single; a further 50,496 were widowed while the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced.
  • This represented approximately one in four of families with children and one in five of all families (25.4% of all family units with children in Ireland and 18% of all family units).
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units.
  • The total number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016.This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years.
  • In contrast, the number of people identified as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178, up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier. As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance (up to five years) the figures reflects both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated.

Link to One Family Annual Review 2018:

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Majority of parents resort to court to agree child maintenance and child’s needs do not determine amount paid

One Family call for the establishment of Statutory Child Maintenance Agency

[Dublin, 15 July 2019] One Family- Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating today released the results of a national survey of parents in relation to child maintenance. The launch comes as the charity launches its new child maintenance position paper.

Karen Kiernan, CEO explains: “We know from our services and particularly calls to our national helpline, askonefamily; that parents really struggle with understanding how to come to an agreement around how much child maintenance should be paid and what to do if it is not paid.  Nearly half of the respondents who are the primary carers of the children do not receive any child maintenance at all, whilst most people have had to resort to court to come to agreement.”

Of the 1,068 respondents to the survey 58% resorted to court order to agree child maintenance, while 42% of the parents who are primary carers do not receive any child maintenance. However, 75% of those who do receive payments reported that they are paid regularly. When it comes to agreeing how much parents should be paid only 9% of respondents said it was determined by the needs of the child.

Kiernan added, “We are launching our new position paper on the thorny issue of child maintenance as for too long governments have ignored it, happy to leave it to parents and courts to battle things out. This is not working for anyone as children and parents can end up financially worse off or abused, our courts are jammed delivering maintenance orders that they cannot enforce, and we are again decades behind our neighbours across Europe.”

“What we need is a statutory child maintenance agency as part of a comprehensive Court Welfare Service that can determine appropriate levels to be paid in a fair child-centred way; that has the ability to ensure that children and families actually receive the maintenance and removes this issue from our adversarial courts system.”

/Ends

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating.

Survey results and position paper:

Survey summary findings here:

One Family position paper on child maintenance here:

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 724 1294

Calls at Pre-Budget Forum for Budget 2020 to be based on evidence

Reports pile up with evidence about what needs to be done to unlock lone parents and their children from the poverty trap

[Dublin, Thursday 4 July] One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called on the Government to urgently implement the recommendations of the eight Government and independently commissioned reports published since 2016 on one-parent families and poverty. All eight reports make similar recommendations and urge the implementation of targeted supports for one-parent families. The call comes as One Family publishes its Pre-Budget Submission for Budget 2020 ahead of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum on 5 July.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “In the last three years, eight reports on one-parent families and poverty have been published; and are now piling-up on shelves in Government departments. Each report paints a similar picture of children growing up in the grip of poverty. These families are consistently among the worse off in our society, they are disproportionately represented in the homelessness figures and the living standards of working one-parent families are now amongst the worst in Europe[1]. This is just not right – these are real families, with real children and their lives matter.We need targeted measures that support one-parent families to support themselves out of poverty. Government needs to prove it is listening to its own research and do the right thing.”

Ms. Kiernan added, “In our Pre-Budget Submission we have outlined eighteen targeted measures based on the research that, if implemented, would significantly change the lives of thousands of children. We want Government to respond to the evidence with compassion and justice in Budget 2020 by developing a cross-departmental response to the needs of one-parent families. If this problem is tackled now, we will avoid condemning another generation of children and their parents to poverty and this is not something we want as a society.”

To read the full details of our Pre-Budget Submission please click here.

Major Research on One-Parent Families since 2016:

  • (2019) Working, Parenting and Struggling? An analysis of the employment and living conditions of one parent families in Ireland. A Report by the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Dublin, Ireland.
  • (2018) Lone-Parent Incomes and Work Incentives. Budget Perspectives 2019. Paper 1, July 2018. Regan, M., Keane, C., and Walsh, J.R. ESRI.
  • (2018) Understanding, negotiating and navigating the politicisation of evidence-based policy research: the case of Irish research on lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Crosse, R., Canavan, J. University of Bristol, UK
  • (2018) In-Work Benefits: The (in)adequacy of in-work benefits in Irish lone parent labour market activation policy. Millar, M., Gray, J., Et al., Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. Policy Press, University of Bristol, UK.
  • (2017) An Independent Review to Identify the Supports and Barriers for Lone Parents in Accessing Higher Education and to Examine Measures to Increase Participation. Delma Byrne and Clíona Murray Maynooth University (Commissioned by DES, DEASP and DCYA).
  • (2017) Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection Report on the Position of Lone Parents in Ireland.
  • (2017) Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012. Presented to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Prepared by Indecon Research Economists www.indecon.ie
  • (2016) Lone Parents and Activation, What Works and Why: A Review of the International Evidence in the Irish Context. Millar, M and Crosse,R.  The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Ends/

Notes to the Editor:

About One Family:

One Family is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016).
  • In November 2018, 14,349 One-Parent Family Payment recipients (39 per cent of all recipients) are in employment, and of 14,418 Jobseeker’s Transition recipients, 4,037 recipients work. The Working Family Payment is an important support for working parents; almost half of recipients are households headed by a lone parent.
  • The Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2017 (SILC) revealed that one-parent family households experience the most deprivation in Ireland. Almost 45% of lone parent households experience more than one form of deprivation.
  • Children living in one-parent families had the highest consistent poverty rate at 20%. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.
  • One-parent families continue to have the lowest disposable income of all households with children in the state (SILC 2017).
  • 60% of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, at any time.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294


[1] St. Vincent DePaul – Working, Parenting and Struggling (2019)

Support lone parents to support themselves – make award winning training programme available nationally

Dublin based training programme records 85% success rate in supporting lone parents to education and employment

[Dublin, 26 June 2019] Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating has called on the Government to make the award-winning New Futures training programme available nationally. The European Social Fund (ESF) funded programme recorded an 85% success rate in 2018 and is currently only available in Dublin.  Ms Kiernan was speaking at a graduation ceremony for parents of the New Futures and New Steps programmes at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission offices in Dublin.

Ms Kiernan said, “The success of our programmes shows how targeted supports, such as these specialist training programmes, can support parents on social welfare out of poverty and back to education or employment. These parents are full of potential, hugely resilient, adaptable and committed; they are looking for support so they can support themselves and their families and this training should be available nationally, not just in Dublin.”

Ms Kiernan added, “The European Social Fund (ESF) have funded New Futures and New Steps for three years and we are extremely grateful for their support. But despite its success, the long-term future of the programme remains uncertain.We are calling on the Government and the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection to provide mainstream funding for these programmes so parents around Ireland can benefit. In 2018, 85% of graduates who completed New Futures went on to further education or employment. We must support parents so that they can support themselves out of poverty.”

New Futures graduate from 2018 and lone parent of four children, Louise Finnegan, said, “The programme has been hugely beneficial to me. I was supported and challenged to be the best person I could be. But it’s more than that, you feel part of a community and whatever challenges you face there is somebody there to lend a hand. Through the programme I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Luxembourg to speak at a conference and I returned to education last September. One of the best things about the course is that my children see me challenging myself, doing assignments and being confident and that helps their confidence and self-belief.”

Ms Kiernan added, “We are asking the Government and the Department to invest in targeted, measurable supports that make a tangible difference to parents’ lives. Government have all the evidence from their own reports including the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Social Protection Report on the Position of Lone Parents in Ireland – they know one-parent families are some of the poorest families in Ireland and they know what is required to address it. We are asking them to take a first step and fund a programme that is proven to work and to make it available in every county in Ireland.”

/Ends.

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating.

One Family programmes:

  • New Futures is One Family’s flagship 24 week personal and professional. development, specialist bridging programme, accredited at QQI level 4.  New Futures won the Special Recognition Award for an ESF Initiative at the Aontas Star Awards in 2019 for making an outstanding contribution to adult learning.
  • New Steps is an eight week parenting support and self-development programme.
  • 80 lone parents are engaged on the current New Futures project.

All One Family’s programmes are specifically designed for those parenting alone or sharing parenting and incorporate 1:1 and wrap around family support services.

Statistics on one-parent families:

  • There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016).
  • 356,203 children lived in one-parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016).
  • In November 2018, 14,349 One-Parent Family Payment recipients (39 per cent of all recipients) are in employment, and of 14,418 Jobseeker’s Transition recipients, 4,037 recipients work. The Working Family Payment is an important support for working parents; almost half of recipients are households headed by a lone parent.
  • The Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2017 (SILC) revealed that one-parent family households experience the most deprivation in Ireland. Almost 45% of lone parent households experience more than one form of deprivation.
  • Children living in one-parent families had the highest consistent poverty rate at 20%. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.
  • One-parent families continue to have the lowest disposable income of all households with children in the state (SILC 2017).
  • 60% of homeless families living in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, at any time.

For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Programmes Manager

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

The New Futures project is part supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020

Coalition for YES welcomes divorce result

The Coalition for YES, a coalition of NGOs and lawyers, have welcomed the resounding YES vote in the divorce referendum.

Speaking as the results rolled in, executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Liam Herrick, said: Ireland is obliged by European and international human rights law and standards to protect the right to privacy and family life. With this vote, we have taken a huge leap towards protecting the rights of people who need a divorce. It will also help to ensure that people who are stuck in dangerous or financially and emotionally distressing situations can be freed from them.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said: This vote is a big step towards making Ireland a more compassionate and humane place for people going through a divorce. We know from our work with families separating that on a practical level it will reduce stress and financial expense for families.

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), said: FLAC welcomes the positive result today, this is a much needed step to reduce the pressure on divorcing couples navigating the legal system. However further progress is needed. There needs to be serious investment in the area of family law in particular with regards to the provision of legal aid and the much needed overhaul of the family law courts.

Keith Walsh, family law solicitor and Lawyers for Yes, said The result of the change to the constitution will help separating couples and their children. It is a victory for progressive changes to family law. Ministers Madigan and Flanagan deserve great credit for ensuring this referendum was brought and passed. But, in case they are resting on their laurels, there is still more reform of the family law system urgently needed. A dedicated family law court system is long overdue as is the immediate replacement of the Victorian courthouse currently used for District Court cases for the Dublin area. Basic resources are required to ensure the voice of the child is heard in the family law courts and to ensure the rights of children are vindicated and protected.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: This referendum was essential to address our punishing divorce laws. Children need to be protected during divorce. Our new divorce law and family supports need to be designed with this in mind. The Coalition for YES is a coalition of organisations and lawyers, led by the Free Legal Advice Centres, the Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, family law practitioner Keith Walsh, solicitor Muriel Walls, Catherine Forde BL and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

ENDS:

Vote YES and make Ireland a more compassionate place.

By voting YES tomorrow you can help to change the lives of thousands of men, women and children across Ireland. People don’t marry thinking they will divorce but sometimes it happens and we need a compassionate and considered response to this reality.

In our work with couples and families separating, we see the devastation that the long wait period can have on each member of the family. Lives put on hold while they wait. Waiting that can breed conflict and resentment. We see people who have thoroughly moved on from the relationship, who obtained degrees, post-graduate degrees and started new families while they wait. 

Tomorrow please have a plan in place to get to your voting station to cast your vote; it is important. By voting YES, you can reduce some of the stress and conflict on these families. You will be able to give people the time they need to make the decision that is right for them and their children. A shorter divorce process can also be beneficial for children who will gain greater certainty about their family situation.

The referendum will not change the constitutional requirements that mean that before a divorce can be granted a Court must be satisfied that proper provision has been made for both spouses and their children and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation before a divorce can be granted.

The referendum also means that legally obtained foreign divorces can be recognised more readily in Ireland as this causes significant difficulties for many people who wish to remarry here.

Voting Yes means we can:

  • Remove unnecessary restrictions on divorce from the Constitution that cause uncertainty and conflict for families and children.
  • Make a difficult process more compassionate and give a couple the time they need to make the decision that is best for them and their children.
  • Recognise that the Constitution is not the right place to deal with complex personal issues.

Tomorrow please vote YES and make Ireland a more compassionate place.

Thank you.

Coalition for YES – Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times

Dear Sir,

The Irish electorate will be asked to vote in an important referendum on divorce this Friday. As a coalition of civil society organisations we are calling for a yes vote so that we can have a better, more compassionate process for people who need it.

On Friday, people will be asked to approve an amendment to the Constitution to remove the requirement for spouses to live apart for a minimum of four years out of the preceding five when applying for a divorce.  The new proposals would reduce that to two years out of the previous three.  For people who got divorced abroad, a yes vote means they will clarify the law on the recognition of foreign divorces.

By voting yes, we can reduce some of the stress and conflict linked to the divorce process. We will be able to give a couple the time they need to make the decision that is right for them and their children. A shorter divorce process will also be beneficial for children who will have greater clarity about their living situation. The referendum will not change the constitutional requirements that before a divorce can be granted a Court must be satisfied that proper provision has been made for both spouses and their children and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation before a Divorce can be granted.

The Constitution is not the right place to deal with complex personal relationships. By voting yes on Friday we can create a more compassionate and supportive divorce process for couples and families in Ireland.

Yours sincerely,

Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland

Liam Herrick, Executive Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres)

Keith Walsh, Lawyers for YES

Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family

Divorce and the Constitution – Irish Times