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National Archives
Divorce referendum

'Doomed to live alone': Mother pleads with Garret FitzGerald for divorce referendum

The 27-year-old woman said Irish people should be given the opportunity to have a say in “their own destiny”.

A YOUNG WOMAN wrote to Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald in 1986 urging him to support holding a divorce referendum.

The woman told the Fine Gael leader that she wanted to have a say in her own “destiny” and that she was “doomed to live alone” unless a law could be enacted where she could be divorced.

The woman, who is from Clare, said she had become “very disillusioned with the state of affairs in this country”.

She wrote: “ I am one of the statistics of a broken marriage in Ireland and I had great hopes that this government would do something. You are in the fortunate position, as indeed are most of the members of your Dail, that you have a happy marriage.

I am 27-years-old with one child doomed to live alone for the rest of my life because of a stupid clause in an ancient document. I will not live with someone as I don’t believe that its a good example for my child.

“Will you please institute proceedings for a referendum to lift the ban on divorce? At least that way the people of Ireland will have a say in their own destiny. ”

The ban on divorce would be lifted nine years later.

The referendum passed by just over 9,000 votes and was a new law was signed in 1996.

A petition against the result was made by Fianna Fáil senator Des Hanafin. It was initially rejected by the High Court and then again on appeal to the Supreme Court. When the legal objections had concluded, President Mary Robinson signed the bill into law three days later.

Read: Price of mental health treatment can cost the same as ‘average Dublin rent’ >

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