Leading national NGOs come together to call for a Yes vote in the upcoming Divorce Referendum

Leading national NGOs come together to call for a Yes vote in the upcoming Divorce Referendum

Five leading national organisations came together today in a coalition calling for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum in relation to divorce on Friday 24 May.

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), One Family, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and the Lawyers for Yes have all come together to call on voters in Ireland to support a referendum that will deliver a better divorce system for people who need it.

On 24 May, 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. It is also proposed for the vote that foreign divorces are recognised here. There will be one question on the ballot paper and voters can either vote Yes to allow both changes, or No to reject both changes.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said: ‘We know from supporting thousands of separating parents and families that we need a more humane and compassionate divorce system in Ireland and this referendum is a step towards achieving that.’

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy of NWCI explained: ‘Nobody marries imagining they are going to need to go through a divorce process. However, circumstances change and some couples will decide that divorce is the best way forward for them and their family. We should be supporting them in order to decrease the stress and conflict involved, not making it unnecessarily difficult.’

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of ICCL said: ‘We have repeatedly seen that our Constitution is not the right place for complex detail relating to family life – we believe that it is more appropriate to remove the wait time for divorce from the Constitution altogether and allow Government legislate in this area.’

Keith Walsh, Lawyers for Yes Campaign explained: ‘It is really important that we continue to take steps towards a complete reform of our divorce and family law system in Ireland to bring it into the 21st century. We still need to see the Family Law legislation published; new specialist child and family  court system as well as a new Children’s and Family Law Courthouse in Hammond Lane built; and appropriate resources for courts to deal with the current volume of work.’

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of FLAC concluded by stating:

‘The irreconcilable breakdown of a marriagecan cause a great deal of stress both emotionally and financially for families. The current 4 year wait period is an extra unnecessary barrier to accessing a legal remedy for these families. This referendum is a chance to improve the process for those in an already difficult situation.



Caroline Smith, FLAC Media and Communications Officer    01-887 3600 / 0862618543 Email: caroline.smith@flac.ie

Noel Sweeney, One Family Communications Manager          016629212 | 085-7241294 Email: nsweeney@onefamily.ie

Sinéad Nolan, ICCL Public Engagement and Communications Officer   0874157162 Email: sinead.nolan@iccl.ie

Spokespersons Contact:

  • Eilis Barry, FLAC Chief Executive – 0877542780
  • Liam Herrick, ICCL Executive Director – 0872351374
  • Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family – 0868509191
  • Keith Walsh, Solicitor, Lawyers for Yes Campaign – 01 455 4723  keith@kwsols.ie
  • To contact a spokesperson for the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI),

Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWCI, Tel. 085 858 9104

Links to organisations websites.