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FOR a democratic republic like our own, the highest expression of the will of the people is when we vote in a referendum. In 1995, we voted by a slender majority to allow people who had lived apart for four years, and who had no chance of reconciling, to seek a divorce.
We are constantly told by Fianna Fáil that the EU will never interfere in social policy here, yet the European Commission had the temerity to introduce an obligatory regulation called Brussels II which allows people practically to circumvent the wishes of the Irish people by going to another EU state, living there for one year and then applying to get a divorce.
The Brussels II regulation makes this ‘quickie’ divorce, procured through forum-hopping recognised here.
This EU law allows the practical circumvention of the democratic decision of the Irish people who agreed a ‘four-year wait’ rule for divorce.
This regulation requires that EU member states recognise and enforce family law judgments concerning divorce, custody and child access in other member states.
An Irish court cannot even challenge the decision of other courts in other EU member states in this area.
There could be nothing more intimate that a person’s marriage and few things more important than custody of and access to a couple’s children.
However, without the foreknowledge and approval of the Irish people, the EU passed a binding law to interfere dramatically in both these situations.
In 2002, the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern suggested that the Brussels II regulation does not change Irish legislation per se, but it is glaringly obvious that the Irish people’s decision on divorce law is now easily ignored and bypassed.
The Lisbon Treaty makes EU institutions more powerful, but less accountable.
That’s a bad deal for Irish democracy.
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