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.