Two-thirds now favour divorce
FOR THE first time a poll has shown that a majority of the Irish people are in favour of the legalisation of divorce in certain circumstances. And the size." of the majority is amazingly high(two' thirds) especially as compared with previous polls which at no stage showed a clear majority in favour yet alone such a decisive one.
The survey was commissioned exclusively by Magill publications Ltd. and was conducted by MRBI Ltd. on a national basis on September 22 and 23, 1977. The statistical sample of 623 is represenntative of the adult population of the Republic aged 18 and upwards (1.89 million) in terms of area, community, sex, age, marital status and class. Interrlocking controls, using in-home interrviews, based on sixty randomly drawn sampling points, were applied.
The change of attitude on divorce is almost certainly linked to new atttitudes in the Catholic Church towards the break-down of marriage. As the law stands at present in the Republic, the State is more rigid on maintaining the marriage contract than is the Church which liberally recognises nullities.
Predictably the younger age groups, the higher social classes and the urban dwellers favour change in this area more than their counterparts but surprisingly women are more in favour of the leggalisation of divorce than are men a reversal of the usual pattern of men being more radical than women.
The poll shows that a similar majjority-64%~ are in faviur of legalising the sale of contraceptives but only 21 % are in favour of legalising the sale for all adults.
The new Fianna Fail Government is committed to introducing new legislattion on the sale of contraceptives but it has consistently refused to divulge the nature of their proposals until consult attation has taken place with "the apppropriate interests". However it seems likely that the sale will be restricted to married people only- and the outtlets will probably be Health Boards, rather than the chemist shops as propposed in the Coalition Bill introduced in the Dail in 1975.
The Government seems however to have ruled out any consideration of a change in the constitutional prohibbition on divorce- this was indicated
in the Dail a few weeks ago by the Taoiseach. However once the Law Refform commission reports on family law , new legislation may be introuced to liberalise the nullity arrangements in accordance with the developments that have taken place within the Catholic Church.
The Labour Party is the only party committed to change in both areas. Fine Gael while ostensibly committed to changing the laws on the sale of contraceptives, has not committted ittself on the divorce issue and the cons-
ervative forces within the party seem to have asserted themselves recently with the questioning by Dr. Garret FitzGerald of divorce being a civil right.
The poll sample used was the sarne as that used used in the pre-election polls and these predicted the election result to a percentage point. The statistical accuracy of the sample is estimated at plus or minus approximately 4.5% so that even allowing for minus 4.5% in the divorce poll there is still an overwhelming majority in favour of change in certain circumstances.
Do you feel that the sale of contraceptives should be legalised?-----
Should be Legalised for Should not be No
legalised married only legalised opinion
TOTAL 623 % % % %
100% 21 43 23 13
Urban 325 28 40 22 10
Rural 298 14 45 25 16
Male 302 26 38 21 15
Female 321 17 47 25 11
18 - 24 108 37 35 13 15
25 - 34 119 31 46 16 7
35 - 54 197 17 47 27 9
55 + 189 10 37 34 19
ABC1 175 26 45 19 10
C2DE 268 26 40 22 12
F1/F2 180 10 39 28 23
If there was a referendum today on the question of divorce, what way would you vote?
Should not be Should be No
legalised legalised Opinion
TOTAL 623 % .% %
100% 26 65 9
Urban 325 22 71 7
Rural 298 31 59 10
Male 302 25 63 12 I
Female 321 27 67 6 I
18 - 24 118 13 78 9 1
25 - 34 119 19 77 4 I
35 - 54 197 28 63 9 ~
55 + 189 37 52 11 ~
ABC1 175 26 69 5 0
C2DE 268 23 65 12 1
FI/F2 180 32· 59 9 1
Sample: 623 Adults aged 18 upwards: Republic of Ireland. I