Just two days to go before voting starts, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) yesterday announced that it will be supporting a yes vote in the upcoming divorce referendum.
The decision was made at its last National Council in Waterford.
If the referendum passes, someone applying for a divorce will no longer have had to live apart from their spouse for a minimum of four out of the past five years. This law, however, will still stand until a new law is introduced by the Oireachtas.
A yes vote will also make explicit in the constitution the power of the Oireachtas to recognise foreign marriages.
Currently, spouses are not permitted to get a divorce until they have lived apart for four of the past five years. The constitution also prevents someone with a foreign divorce from remarrying, unless that marriage is recognised under Irish law.
In a press statement about the announcement, USI president Síona Cahill said: “The constitution is not the place to deal with the complexities of personal and familial relationships, and certainly no one gets married expecting to ever have to separate or divorce, but we need to update our mechanisms for supporting families through what is already a difficult situation.”
“The necessary separation of a couple, for a myriad of reasons, with due regard for family and property, is never easily taken decision, but one that is deemed best by those affected”, she said. “We need to respect that decision and make the process less traumatic, and shorter, for everyone involved.”
“People need to be enabled to move on with their lives in the best way possible, and laws must be updated to reflect this. No one will have to apply after two years, but facilitates that if a couple wishes to do so.”
“We are asking students to use their vote to show compassion to those who need it, and vote yes on this Friday 24th May”, she added.
USI also supported a yes vote in the marriage equality referendum in 2015, and ran a campaign in support of the successful referendum to repeal the eighth amendment in 2018. Ahead of the 2018 referendum, the union also organised voter registration drives, signing up over 18,000 students.