Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1986
|Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1986|
|To remove the constitutional prohibition on divorce|
|Date||26 June 1986|
The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1986 (bill no. 15 of 1986) was a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Ireland to remove the prohibition on divorce. The proposal was rejected in a referendum on 26 June 1986. It was the first of two referendums held in Ireland on the question of divorce; the Fifteenth Amendment in 1995 allowed for divorce under specified conditions.
The Constitution of Ireland adopted in 1937 included a constitutional ban on divorce. The prohibition reflected the religious values of the document's Catholic drafters, but was also supported by senior members of the Anglican Church of Ireland. In the 1930s, some other countries had similar bans, such as Italy, which would not repeal its ban until the 1970s. By the 1980s, however, many saw the prohibition on divorce as illiberal or as discriminating against those who did not share the Christian attitude to divorce. An Oireachtas Joint Committee on Marital Breakdown was established in 1983, which reported in 1985. It made recommendations on such matters as mediation, judicial separation, child custody, and barring orders; regarding divorce, it recommended that a referendum be held but did not agree on a yes vote.
Proposed changes to the text
Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill proposed to delete the following Article 41.3.2º of the Constitution:
2º No law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage.
and to substitute that subsection with the following:
2º Where, and only where, such court established under this Constitution as may be prescribed by law is satisfied that:
- i. a marriage has failed,
- ii. the failure has continued for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least five years,
- iii. there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation between the parties to the marriage, and
- iv. any other condition prescribed by law has been complied with,
the court may in accordance with law grant a dissolution of the marriage provided that the court is satisfied that adequate and proper provision having regard to the circumstances will be made for any dependent spouse and for any child of or any child who is dependent on either spouse.
A private member's bill by Labour Party government backbencher Mervyn Taylor to remove the ban on divorce, Tenth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill 1985, was defeated in Dáil Éireann on 26 February 1986 by 54 votes to 33.
On 14 May of the same year, Minister for Justice Michael Noonan introduced the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1986 on behalf of the Fine Gael–Labour Party government of Garret FitzGerald. It passed the Dáil on 21 May and the Seanad on 24 May.
The amendment was supported by government parties Fine Gael and Labour as well as the Workers' Party. It was opposed by Fianna Fáil, the main opposition party, by the Catholic Church and by conservative groups.
|Invalid or blank votes||8,522||0.57|
|Registered voters and turnout||2,436,836||60.84|
|Constituency||Electorate||Turnout (%)||Votes||Proportion of votes|
The Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989, enacted three years after the referendum, had been initiated as a private member's bill by Fine Gael backbencher Alan Shatter. This allowed for separation to be recognised by the courts, without the right to remarry.
The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1995 was proposed by Mervyn Taylor, now as Minister for Equality and Law Reform, which again proposed to allow for divorce in certain circumstances. It was narrowly passed by referendum on 24 November 1995 with 50.3% of the vote.
- Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown (2 April 1985). Report (PDF). Official publications. Pl.3074. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Private Members' Business - Tenth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed)". Houses of the Oireachtas. 26 February 1986. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- "Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1986: Order for Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 14 May 1986. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- "Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1986: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 21 May 1986. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- "Tenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1986: Committee Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 24 May 1986. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 40. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
- "Private Members' Business. - Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Bill, 1987: Second Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 2 February 1988. Retrieved 19 May 2018.