Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland repealed the constitutional prohibition of divorce. It was effected by the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995, which was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on the 17 June 1996.

Changes to the text

Article 41.3.2 (before)

:No law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage.

Article 41.3.2 (after)

:A Court designated by law may grant a dissolution of marriage where, but only where, it is satisfied that—

::i. at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years,

::ii. there is no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the spouses,

::iii. such provision as the Court considers proper having regard to the circumstances exists or will be made for the spouses, any children of either or both of them and any other person prescribed by law, and

::iv. any further conditions prescribed by law are complied with.


In 1995 an absolute ban on divorce had been present in the constitution since its adoption in 1937. The prohibition reflected the religious values of the document's Roman Catholic drafters, but was also supported by senior members of the Anglican Church of Ireland. In the 1930s some other nations 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. In 1986, a first attempt to remove the ban on divorce was made by the Fine Gael government of Garret FitzGerald. However this proposal was rejected by voters by a substantial margin. When Fine Gael returned to government in 1994 under John Bruton a second attempt was made and, after much controversy and public debate, was ultimately carried by a slim margin. The Fifteenth Amendment altered Article 41.3 of the constitution, which provides for a number of fundamental rights of the family. The amendment removed the absolute prohibition on divorce but also imposed a number of restriction on its occurrence.


ee also

*Politics of the Republic of Ireland
*History of the Republic of Ireland
*Constitutional amendment

External links

* [ Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995] (Full text at [] )
* [ Full text of the Constitution of Ireland] (Accurate up to and including the Twenty-seventh Amendment from [ Department of the Taoiseach] )
* [ The Unabridged Constitution of Ireland] (Unofficial variorum edition – accurate only up to Twentieth Amendment)

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