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Donegal group urges ‘no’ vote in divorce referendum

THE Donegal founder of the Catholic Association says the institution of marriage will be “weakened even further” if people back plans to reduce the waiting time for divorce.

Currently divorce is permitted only under certain conditions, one of which is that a couple has to have been living apart for four years.

The government s to shorten the waiting period from four years to two and the matter will be put to a public vote this Friday.

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But Buncrana man Brian Flanagan says the proposals represent “yet another assault on the institution of marriage”.

Mr Flanagan, who was front and centre of the pro-life campaign in Donegal, says that voting to reduce the waiting time for a divorce will make individuals “complicit in the trauma divorce causes to so many children”, something he says has been “borne out in numerous studies”.

As well as that, it will “further undermine the solidity of an institution that is key to our nation’s stability and future”, according to the founder of the Catholic Association.

“I am in favour of the electorate keeping the restriction of four years because if it goes to two years then it can go to one year or whatever the Government chooses.

“Let’s not weaken the institution of marriage more than it is because the consequences divorce has on children cannot be fixed,” said Mr Flanagan.

As a Catholic, he accepts that on occasion couples have to part ways. Divorce however has made separating “easy”.

“As Catholics we understand that some married couples can no longer stay together for the good of one or both spouses, but the introduction of divorce has seen a trivialisation of the institution, given the ability to exit and remarry when the relationship gets difficult. This is sometimes at the expense of one spouse’s welfare and that of children.

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“Catholics who take their faith seriously know that marriage is until death do the spouses part. If we vote to weaken still further an already weak bond, some will increasingly tend to enter this all-important contract without the appropriate aforethought and resolution.”

According to statistics the number of people in Donegal applying for divorce has more than doubled in recent years. In 2016 the Courts Service received 117 applications for divorce in the county compared to 49 the previous year.

With divorce “lurking in the shadows” young couples are unable to “wholeheartedly enter into making plans for life,” Brian Flanagan claimed.

Urging people to reject proposals to cut in half the waiting time for divorce, he added, “We appear to be returning to pre-Christians ways. Easier access to divorce undermines marriage and harms children so we must vote no.”

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