State Papers

1978: Ireland "laughing stock of progressive world" over divorce and contraceptives

As debates raged on divorce and separation, one Irish man wrote to the Taoiseach Jack Lynch from Australia to tell him what people thought of the country.

IRELAND WAS THE “laughing stock of the progressive world” in 1982 – at least according to one young Irish man who wrote to the Taoiseach from Australia.

The man wrote on 30 January 1978 to the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch about the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Irish State, wondering how Church laws could be more liberal in Australia. The letter was among the many documents unveiled in the 1982 State Papers, which were released this month under the 30-year rule.

The enclosed article from the Sydney Herald is about a newspaper advertisement from a Dublin man on the anullment of his marriage, in which he proclaims ‘Deo Gratias’, or ‘thank God’.

According to the paper, the ad was "an echo of frustration" that many Irish people felt about family law at the time, given that contraception and divorce were both banned.

Taoiseach Lynch opposed legalising divorce and said that there was no way his Fianna Fail would back plans to legalise it.

But for one young man out in Oz, Ireland badly needed to move on:

Read: 1982 State Papers: 30 years on?>

Read all of’s stories on the 1982 State papers, just released>

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