1995 – In a constitutional vote, a tiny majority vote to revoke the ban on divorce in Ireland.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Ireland voted narrowly to lift the ban on divorce enshrined in its constitution for more than half a century. Results tallied from a nationwide referendum showed that 50.3 percent of voters favoured removing the prohibition, placed in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic republic’s founding charter in 1937 in conformity with church doctrine.

While the losers spoke of a possible court challenge, they also conceded that they had lost the historic contest. The constitutional amendment approved by the vote allowed spouses who had been living apart for four of the previous five years to divorce on grounds of “no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.”

Supporters of divorce called for the unshackling of individual rights from religious law, and opponents contended that divorce would unravel Ireland’s unique “family fabric” and send the country hurtling down the road to societal disintegration.

The Catholic Church, from Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa down to Ireland’s…

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