Legalising Divorce in the Republic of Ireland: A Canonical Harness to the Legal Liberation of the Right to Marriage Among the Disenfranchised
7 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009 Last revised: 24 Aug 2014
Date Written: September 1, 2009
The history of marriage as an institution in the Republic of Ireland cannot be looked at without understanding and appreciating its historical Catholicism and the role that the politically-systematised Roman Catholic Church in the public and private guardianship of marriage as both a religious sacrament and a contractual obligation carrying legal rights and duties. The sacrament of marriage in the Roman Catholic tradition contains spiritual and contractual elements, thus inviting conflict between goals and obligations encompassed in the two marriage perspectives. The sacramental qualities surrounding the marriage contract and its basis in canon law proffered the canonical foundations on which Ireland based its Constitution. In essence, marriage and the rights to it were (are?) a dual institution that creates a religious sacrament and legal contract and the subsequent overlap of Canonical and Constitutional doctrines in Irish marriage law. This Essay grapples with the issue of divorce and its significant role in impeding the right of marriage in Ireland. Prior to the 1996 constitutional amendment legalising divorce, individuals were effectively caught between the anvil of the Church and the hammer of the State.
Keywords: Republic of Ireland, constitution, state, catholic church, marriage, divorce, Canonical Law
JEL Classification: K1, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation