Ms Justice Tara Burns urges voter registration ahead of the May 24th referendum on the regulation of Divorce

Monday 29th April 2019:  The Referendum Commission has congratulated the 2,400 people who became Irish citizens at ceremonies in Killarney today, telling them they can now vote for the first time in a referendum on the Irish Constitution on May 24th next.

Speaking at today’s citizenship ceremonies the Commission’s Chairperson Ms Justice Tara Burns said: “Becoming a citizen of Ireland is a wonderful thing but it also casts a civic duty on all of us to be involved and take part in our society.  One way you can fulfil that civic duty is by voting in the upcoming referendum which proposes a change to our Constitution.”

People living in Ireland have the right to vote in different types of elections, but only citizens of Ireland can vote in a referendum proposing a change to the Constitution. The website checktheregister.ie gives access to downloadable forms through which to register for the first time, or to change your status to reflect your citizenship.  If new citizens complete and return these forms by May 7th, they will be entitled to vote in the May 24th referendum on the regulation of divorce.

“This is your Constitution now also”, Ms Justice Burns said.  “Only citizens of Ireland can change it. The government and the politicians cannot.  You and you alone have the power to change the Constitution or keep it the same.”  She was speaking to 2,400 people from approximately 90 different countries who received their citizenship certificates today.

She said the referendum is about the regulation of divorce.  “The proposal to change the Constitution has two parts. The first part of the proposal is to remove from the Constitution the requirement that a couple be living apart for 4 out of the previous 5 years before they can apply for a divorce.  If the proposal is passed, it will mean that the Oireachtas can legislate about this issue in the future.

“The second part of the proposal relates to foreign divorces.  A provision of the Constitution states that a person who has obtained a foreign divorce abroad which is not recognised in the State cannot remarry.  The proposal is to remove this provision of the Constitution and replace it with a provision which explicitly states that the Oireachtas can legislate to recognise foreign divorces.”

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