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Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to seek Cabinet approval for new divorce bill

The minister is also expected to ask Cabinet to approve the publication of the Blasphemy BIll 2019.

Minister Charlie Flanagan
Minister Charlie Flanagan
Image: Leah Farrell

JUSTICE MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan will today ask cabinet ministers to approve drafting of a Family Law Bill to implement the decision of the recent referendum on divorce. 

The proposed bill, if approved, will reduce the minimum time spent living apart for couples seeking a divorce, from four of the previous five years, to two of the previous three years.

The result of the referendum on 24 May, which was held alongside the local and European elections, seen 82% of people vote in favour of reducing the waiting period. 

The bill includes updating the statutory definition of ‘living apart’ and will include provisions for spouses who live at the same address but are considered living separate lives. 

It also includes judicial separations, reducing, where relevant, the necessary living apart period from three years to one year. 

Anyone already in the process of obtaining a judicial separation will be granted a divorce instead, meaning, those who are living apart for two of the three previous years, with a judicial separation application pending, can now be granted a divorce.

With a no-deal Brexit still a possibility, the new bill takes into account the impact that would have on how divorces granted in Britain for residents in Ireland.

The draft legislation will include provisions so divorces granted in Britain are treated in the same way as if granted by an EU state. 

Blasphemy

Along with the draft proposal for a new Family Law Bill, Flanagan will also seek Cabinet approval to publish the Blasphemy Bill 2019 today. 

Some 65% of Irish people voted in favour of removing blasphemy as a criminal offence during a referendum, held alongside the presidential elections, in 2018. 

The key aim of the bill is to ensure it is not longer possible to initiate a prosecution for blasphemy. 

Comedian Stephen Fry’s comments on an RTÉ programme in 2015 drew attention to the utterance of blasphemous matter as a crime in the Irish constitution. 

The Bill is expected to be published later this week and move through the Oireachtas for approval when the Dáil returns after the summer recess. 

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