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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C

A loophole allowing Irish minors to marry will soon be closed

387 minors married at the age of 16 or 17 between 2004 and 2014.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS today approved the introduction of legislation to remove a loophole which allows 16 and 17 year olds to marry in special circumstances.

Following a cabinet meeting today Tánaiste Joan Burton said it was her opinion that this loophole be removed as a child welfare measure.

“Marriage carries significant implications for a potential spouse, implications which can be life-long in nature,” she commented.

The dissolution of a marriage takes a minimum of four years. Persons getting married should have the maturity to understand the implications of their actions, and a person under 18 may not have the necessary maturity to marry. Underage marriage is also inconsistent with national policy objectives to reduce the instance of early school leaving.

It is expected that removing the underage exemption will have the added benefit of helping to protect minors against forced marriage.

“Requiring both intended spouses to be at least 18 should assist in ensuring that potential spouses have the maturity to withstand external pressure to marry a particular person,” the Department of Social Protection said.

The department also said that while this issue is often raised specifically in relation to girls, it also affects boys. According to CSO figures, 387 minors married at the age of 16 or 17 between 2004 and 2014. In several cases, both parties to a marriage were minors. In total over the period, 302 girls and 85 boys married in the State at the age of 16 or 17.

Read: Court was right to not recognise marriage of 14-year-old girl>

Read: Sham marriage dispute: ‘My partner’s parents had their flights booked, but now our wedding can’t happen’>

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