The divorce referendum

Concerned Irishman

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I was still quite young and apathetic when the divorce referendum went through. Personally, advocacy for the continued prohibition of divorce seems so far out there that I cannot wrap my head around it. Is there anyone here that took that position at the time? Does anyone have any election literature from that time?

I am just trying to find the arguments given by those trying to defend the ban at the time.
 


marmurr1916

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Concerned Irishman

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Information on either would do, as I'm sure the arguments were similar. Thanks for the tip-off, it seems interesting
 

Kilbarry

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Supporters and Opponents of Divorce

I was still quite young and apathetic when the divorce referendum went through. Personally, advocacy for the continued prohibition of divorce seems so far out there that I cannot wrap my head around it. Is there anyone here that took that position at the time? Does anyone have any election literature from that time?

I am just trying to find the arguments given by those trying to defend the ban at the time.
You may wish to look at the article "Conor Cruise O'Brien and Compassion"
CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN AND "COMPASSION" (November 1995)
which quotes some of the arguments used by supporters and opponents of divorce in 1995. They include Minister for Finance Ruairi Quinn calling Professor William Binchy a "fascist" because the latter opposed divorce. After Quinn apologised, Conor Cruise O'Brien went on to describe Binchy as a Nazi!

Minister for Social Welfare, Proinsias de Rossa also called the Archbishop of Cashel a liar for saying that second marriages were more likely to end in divorce than first ones. (I think the Cruiser supported that comment as well.)

Indeed this was a triumph of liberalism over reaction.
 

marmurr1916

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You and your ilk lost. Get over it.
 

Verhofstadt

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I was involved in the 1995 campaign, those against the introduction of divorce argued on multiple grounds although nearly always the grounds they argued on were thinly veiled fronts for the basic argument that as a Catholic country we shouldn't be divorcing at all at all.

The argument that it would split up farms was perhaps the most persuasive in rural ireland.

Other arguments that it would leave women in poverty etc that took hold in 1986 didn't win much support in 1995

I canvassed hard for a yes vote, not via a party, but via the ICTU through my own union at the time, the CPSU.

The union executive voted to campaign but a far percentage of members were very unhappy with getting involved in social issues.

I'm still amazed at the number of very intelligent people like William Binchy who argued so strongly against it.

It was a bloody close vote and it really could have gone the other way.
 

Kilbarry

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You and your ilk lost. Get over it.
What makes you think I am an opponent of divorce or that I am not divorced myself? Government Ministers should not be calling people fascists and liars simply because they hold different views. The thuggery on our streets does bear some relation to the use of thuggish language by our political elite.
 

marmurr1916

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Verhofstadt

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Incredibly close. There were about 9,000 votes in it!
some the major "successes" for liberal Ireland were far from sure things at the time.. the elected of Mary Robinson and the legalisation of divorce being two major ones that I recall.

The scandals surrounding the church, including the fall from grace of the likes of Eamon Casey and Michael Cleary helped. The difference in attitudes towards the church between 1986 and 1995 was a decisive factor.

Still a lot more battles to win mind you.

Ireland is still a very conservative country.
 

marmurr1916

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The difference in attitudes towards the church between 1986 and 1995 was a decisive factor.
Definitely. My parents both voted 'No' in 1986.

By 1995, they had both become more personally liberal and wary of the Catholic Church.

Still a lot more battles to win mind you.

Ireland is still a very conservative country.
The next battle is over control of the education system.

It's the key battle.

'Give me the boy until the age of seven and I will give you the man'.
 

Kilbarry

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some the major "successes" for liberal Ireland were far from sure things at the time.. the elected of Mary Robinson and the legalisation of divorce being two major ones that I recall.

The scandals surrounding the church, including the fall from grace of the likes of Eamon Casey and Michael Cleary helped. The difference in attitudes towards the church between 1986 and 1995 was a decisive factor.

Still a lot more battles to win mind you.

Ireland is still a very conservative country.
The following is an extract from the article CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN AND "COMPASSION" (November 1995)

There is a direct connection between the lies told by De Rossa and Conor Cruise O'Brien during the divorce referendum and allegations that Irish Bishops were involved in paedophile scandals.

(A) Bishop Comiskey was being treated for alcoholism in the USA, while the divorce debate was going on in Ireland. Anti-clerical journalists in Ireland took the opportunity to launch a vicious and sustained campaign of slander against the Bishop and Conor Cruise O'Brien was an enthusiastic participant in this campaign [See in particular the article "BISHOP COMISKEY AND CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN" on the Alliance Support website on 15 October 2006].
BISHOP COMISKEY AND CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN [October 1995]

(B) Proinsias De Rossa was leader of Democratic Left at the time of the referendum. The previous year, in November 1994, a leading member of this party, Pat Rabbitte had been largely responsible for bringing down the Fianna Fail Government of Albert Reynolds by fabricating rumours of a conspiracy between Church and State to prevent the extradition of Father Brendan Smyth.

[UK historian] Richard Webster describes this episode in his essay "States of Fear, the Redress Board and Ireland's Folly":
Fragments of a witch hunt: Ireland

"Unfounded reports began to circulate in Dublin that the [extradition] process was being deliberately delayed in response to a request made at the highest level by the Catholic Church. An Irish opposition deputy, Pat Rabbitte, then referred in parliament to the possible existence of a document that would "rock the foundations of this society to its very roots". He apparently had in mind the rumoured existence of a letter written by the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Cathal Daly, to the attorney general in Dublin. In this letter the Cardinal had supposedly interceded on behalf of Father Brendan Smyth and requested the delay in his extradition which had in fact taken place.

No evidence has been produced that any such letter ever existed. Yet, as a direct result of the rumours which now swept the country, confidence in the ruling establishment was undermined and the Fianna Fail government of Albert Reynolds fell, amidst talk of a dark conspiracy involving politicians, members of Opus Dei, the Knights of Columbus and others. This conspiracy was allegedly seeking to cover up the activities of paedophile priests. "
(from Richard Webster: sceptical essays)
 

Catalpa

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I was still quite young and apathetic when the divorce referendum went through. Personally, advocacy for the continued prohibition of divorce seems so far out there that I cannot wrap my head around it. Is there anyone here that took that position at the time? Does anyone have any election literature from that time?

I am just trying to find the arguments given by those trying to defend the ban at the time.
It was only carried by the narrowest of margins

- pretty well a 50:50 split!

Yet if you read the media at the time 9 2 1 they were in favour of it.

There is surely something wrong with a State where the 'mainstream' media was [& is still!] so out of touch with huge swathes of public opinion.

People had a lot of reasons for opposing it.

Many women feared that the family home could be taken off them.

Others that their children could

& many had deep moral reservations on religious grounds

-not all of of whom were Catholics by any means!

There was also a referendum in 1986 that was defeated by a clear margin.

At least then they had the decency to wait almost a decade B4 putting it to the People again.
 

reknaw

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I spent the whole of 1995 in Ireland and remember the campaign well. Incredible! :oops:

In the wake of the Eamon Casey scandal, Gaybo's attempt to savage and discredit Annie Murphy, the mother of the bishop's son, as well as the revelation about that other really nasty little pr1ck and "media priest", Michael Cleary and the Father Smythe affair, the church and its self-appointed fellow-travellers brazened it out as best they could and pulled out all the stops in their attempt to paint the devil on the wall in their opposition to divorce.

Ignoring the fact that tens of thousands of marriages had irretrievably broken down and that many had new partners and even children with them, they painted (as is their wont) an unrealistic picture and tried to claim that the introduction of divorce would mean the total collapse of our society and chaos rather than making it possible for many, many people to regularise their situation.

One of the most astonishing characters in the campaign was a certain religious nut job and Opus Dei stalwart Rory O'Hanlon, a High Court judge, who appallingly abused his position and the cachet that goes with it to play politics. It seems incredibly today, only 14 years later, that a High Court judge could get away with violating the spirit, letter and principle of the de Montesquieu tripartite division of powers in such a disgraceful way as he did. And it says a lot about how strong the residual power of the kiddy-fiddler church remained. Just imagine if today a minister tried to intervene in the decisions of the High Court, or a senior judge attended a political rally for or against, say, NAMA - or Lisbon!

Yes, indeed, it was a close one, and rather interesting to see the beginning of the end of the vile malaise that descended on our country and reached its deepest point under John Charles McQuaid.:rolleyes:

But the good guys won. Now there is still a long way to go, but the most recent revelations about the savagery that was the reality of the "ideal" world those zealots were trying to preserve gives us hope that their day is done for ever and we can look forward to, eventually, an era of non-ignorance and superstition beginning in Ireland.:lol:
 
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Mitsui

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I spent the whole of 1995 in Ireland and remember the campaign well. Incredible!
Same here, reknaw. And "incredible" is the word - or would be in any country but Ireland.

Remember the "Hello divorce - Bye Bye Daddy" posters?

And I was only mentioning on another thread the other day the fab Úna NicMhathúna - she who greeted the cheers of the winning side with the immortal words "G'way ye wife-swapping sodomites!"

It's good to see that some of the more troglodytic nay-sayers (such as Ms NicMhathúna and her charming daughter Niamh Ní Bhroin) have found a home in Youth Defence...er, I mean Cóir...or whichever it is.

You'd hate to think their wit and wisdom were being wasted.
 

whataday

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I was still quite young and apathetic when the divorce referendum went through. Personally, advocacy for the continued prohibition of divorce seems so far out there that I cannot wrap my head around it. Is there anyone here that took that position at the time? Does anyone have any election literature from that time?

I am just trying to find the arguments given by those trying to defend the ban at the time.
It was a nasty campaign by any stretch. Congregations were advised from the pulpit to preserve the family.. Plus there was, I believe, a genuine lack of understanding amongst the older long term married why divorce was needed... It's well to remember that divorce concerns a minority. We're not good with minorities :)
 

Kilbarry

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I spent the whole of 1995 in Ireland and remember the campaign well. Incredible! :oops:

In the wake of the Eamon Casey scandal, Gaybo's attempt to savage and discredit Annie Murphy, the mother of the bishop's son, as well as the revelation about that other really nasty little pr1ck and "media priest", Michael Cleary and the Father Smythe affair, the church and its self-appointed fellow-travellers brazened it out as best they could and pulled out all the stops in their attempt to paint the devil on the wall in their opposition to divorce.

Ignoring the fact that tens of thousands of marriages had irretrievably broken down and that many had new partners and even children with them, they painted (as is their wont) an unrealistic picture and tried to claim that the introduction of divorce would mean the total collapse of our society and chaos rather than making it possible for many, many people to regularise their situation.

One of the most astonishing characters in the campaign was a certain religious nut job and Opus Dei stalwart Rory O'Hanlon, a High Court judge, who appallingly abused his position and the cachet that goes with it to play politics. It seems incredibly today, only 14 years later, that a High Court judge could get away with violating the spirit, letter and principle of the de Montesquieu tripartite division of powers in such a disgraceful way as he did. And it says a lot about how strong the residual power of the kiddy-fiddler church remained. Just imagine if today a minister tried to intervene in the decisions of the High Court, or a senior judge attended a political rally for or against, say, NAMA - or Lisbon!

Yes, indeed, it was a close one, and rather interesting to see the beginning of the end of the vile malaise that descended on our country and reached its deepest point under John Charles McQuaid.:rolleyes:

But the good guys won. Now there is still a long way to go, but the most recent revelations about the savagery that was the reality of the "ideal" world those zealots were trying to preserve gives us hope that their day is done for ever and we can look forward to, eventually, an era of non-ignorance and superstition beginning in Ireland.:lol:
It is normal to be skeptical about the motives of people who write Kiss and Tell books as Annie Murphy had just done. Also Bishop Casey had been something of a hero with liberal Ireland at the time. Remember when Terry Keane published her revelations about Charlie Haughey (also on the Late Late Show)? Few people regarded Haughey as a hero then, yet the behaviour of his former mistress caused a certain amount of nausea.

Anyway Gay Byrne more than made up for his treatment of Annie Murphy when he suggested that Bishop Brendan Comiskey had fled to America to avoid allegations of child abuse - or what else did he mean by the following?

Taken from article BISHOP BRENDAN COMISKEY AND FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE [1995]

"Take the following from a sneering article by Declan Lynch in the Sunday Independent on 8 October 1995. It is headed "Gaybo Speaks and the Catholic Faithful Tremble":

"I personally would rate myself a friend and admirer of Brendan Comiskey [said Gay Byrne on his radio programme], and indeed I was looking for him on the telephone recently, and he didn't make contact with me which would have been kind of unusual, a little bit unusual.

"So much so that I don't believe now that Brendan Comiskey has gone to America because of stress, nor do I believe he's gone because of alcohol, nor do I believe he's gone because of his alleged protection of a priest who's up on charges.

"I think there is something other. I haven't the faintest idea of what it is, but I think there is something else, and I think it is something dreadful, and I.m almost afraid of what it might be. That's my personal reaction.
"

A second article in the same paper commented that "although the remarks appeared to be 'off the cuff' it is known that Gay scripts his shows with extreme care and attention."

So what was Gay Byrne suggesting? When Father Sean Fortune committed suicide he left a note claiming that he had been sexually assaulted by Bishop Comiskey! Is that what Gay had in mind?"

Isn't is about time that Gay Byrne explained what he meant by his comments about Bishop Comiskey in 1995? They do give an excellent impression of the atmosphere in the country around the time of the Divorce referendum. They also help to explain why today, every teacher, priest, social worker, doctor, nurse etc must take special precautions in dealing with children to ensure that they are not falsely accused of child abuse. That kind of vile atmosphere began to be created around 1994/95 when even Government Ministers decided that any tactics whatsoever could be used to discredit people who disagreed with their own "liberal" views.
 

Baron von Biffo

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Same here, reknaw. And "incredible" is the word - or would be in any country but Ireland.

Remember the "Hello divorce - Bye Bye Daddy" posters?
And then there was,

Divorce will cost you £10,000

RTE made a fly on the wall documentary called Hearts and Minds featuring both campaigns. It's well worth a watch for anyone interested in this subject.
 

cropbeye

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Divorce referendum

I was very involved in the Yes campagain and a hard slog it was.

Many of the armchair liberals didn't get up and give us much help at least in Cork.

I found there was a huge difference between the leadership of the official No side

and many of the ordinary people who voted No. Many who voted No were and still are

people capable of much personal compassion and kindness. In other words could be good

and friendly neighbours to a couple even in what was called an irregular relationship. But

still on a theoretical basis they liked to express in the constitution or at least in broad public

policy in the states statement of values; a set of conservative aspirations that represent a kind of better world

than just focussing everything on the individual floating untethered in the cosmos. It's a bit

like the pick up truck the shotgun mamma's Apple pie and the flag in the United States.

I agree with some other posters that the number of Irish people who basically in their hearts tend to a kind of conservatism or even romantic kind of restraint & sacrifise

is much higher than is usually conceeded on Politics.ie
 

Mar Tweedy

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I remember working in the U.S. in the early 1990s and their mouths would drop when they heard there was no divorce in Ireland. And if only they knew that condoms had only become freely available around that time also. I felt like I was coming from some country from the dark ages. They then would presume that we didn't have things like toasters and clock radios. I remember an american explaining to me what these thing were LOL!

lThings have changed so much in Ireland in such a short time that I think some younger people (and I'm not that old) have no idea of how closed and claustrophic a society it was.

Masterminds of the Right by Emily O'Reilly is a great read on the tactics of the pro-abortion and then anti-abortion amendments right wing groups - many of the same people were then involved in the anti-divorce movement - and now Coir of course.
 


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