It takes at least 4 years to apply for a divorce in Ireland. Will voters change that?

It takes at least 4 years to apply for a divorce in Ireland. Will voters change that?

It takes at least 4 years to apply for a divorce in Ireland. Will voters change that?

As the Dublin native seeks a divorce, his legal and financial situation may sound difficult, but this is not unusual in Ireland due to the country’s divorce laws, which are among the most restrictive in Europe.

Under current legislation, which is enshrined in the country’s constitution, a person can only apply for a divorce after living separately from their spouse for four out of the previous five years.

No one is exempt from this mandatory wait time, including those who are trying to leave abusive relationships, most of whom are women. Women suffering from domestic abuse could benefit from a shorter divorce process in order to protect themselves — and their children — from continued abuse from a former spouse, according to the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Other individuals in the process of separating, like Rossney, argue that the minimum wait time creates unnecessary levels of anxiety, prohibits their ability to move on, wreaks havoc on their emotional well-being and is a terrible financial burden.

That could all change on May 24 when Ireland goes to the polls in a referendum on divorce.

A ‘protracted war’

Any changes to the Irish constitution must be approved by a public referendum and, in this upcoming poll, voters will be asked whether they support a government proposal to remove the four-year wait from the constitution. If passed, parliament will legislate on the future time period needed before couples can apply for a divorce.

Voters will also be asked if they want to remove a law that doesn’t recognize foreign divorces, a provision that prohibits people who divorced outside Ireland from remarrying.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said in March that “complex questions of social policy are best dealt with through detailed legislation in the Oireachtas (parliament) rather than within the confines of our Constitution.”

Flanagan added that the government intends to reduce the living apart period to two years so that both parties can “move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe.”

Forty-year-old Rossney told CNN that the long wait has fueled a hostile environment that has been exploited by the legal system, and that the proceedings — and relationship with his ex — could have been more positive if the mandatory period wasn’t so drawn out.

“I don’t think we would have hit such a low point if things hadn’t dragged on so long,” he said. “We knew we had a protracted war ahead of us.”

Rossney, a proud father of two, said that he believes that the current law means that legal teams don’t have “any incentives to stop fighting until the money is gone.” He said that Ireland’s family court “is not fit for purpose” as “like any other court, it is … a fight until one party wins and the other loses.”

A changing Ireland

Many in the process of divorce support the government proposal. If it passes, it will be the latest in a series of measures reflecting modern Irish society that have recently questioned, and rejected, the historical role of the Catholic Church’s doctrine on its institutions.

They baptized their children for school places. Now regret is setting in.
Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote, with more than 60% voting yes in a referendum in 2015. And, earlier this year, it opened its first abortion services following the 2018 vote that repealed a constitutional amendment that had placed a near-ban on terminations.

While public support for the change in divorce law is high, a small minority fears that if it passes, it could lead to the demise of the institution of marriage.

David Quinn, director of the Catholic advocacy group Iona Institute, told CNN that if the waiting period was taken out of the constitution, “politicians will eventually vote two years down to six months, in which case the difference between marriage and cohabitation, legally speaking, becomes ever finer.”

Speaking on Irish radio in December, Quinn said: “I don’t think something as important as marriage should be too easy to get out of.

“There should be a kind of trip wire to really slow down and think about it,” he added.

‘You’re in a situation where you can’t move on’

Quinn’s comments reflect Ireland’s difficult relationship with divorce, and the upcoming vote will mark the third time the country has held a referendum on the subject.

In a 1986 referendum, 63% of Irish voters rejected a proposal to end a total ban on divorce.

Almost a decade later, Irish voters were asked again. The 1995 divorce referendum was a hotly contested campaign, vocally opposed by the Catholic Church. Marked by prominent signs reading “Hello Divorce, Goodbye Daddy,” anti-divorce activists argued that Irish men would leave their wives en masse if it passed.

That referendum did pass but only just: Ireland voted to repeal the country’s 58-year-old constitutional ban on divorce by a razor-thin margin of less than 1% of the vote.
In 1995, Ireland voted by a narrow margin to lift its 58-year-old ban on divorce.

Some of that lingering anti-divorce sentiment, coupled with the current legal restrictions and the rise in cohabitating couples, are reflected in the country’s current divorce rate, which is among the lowest in Europe.

Married couples in Ireland tend to stay together at a far higher average compared to their EU counterparts, with a crude divorce rate of 0.7 out of 1,000 people, compared to the EU average of 1.9, according to Eurostat data.

While the introduction of divorce has been viewed as a pivotal moment in Ireland’s modern history, most of the Yes campaigners that CNN spoke to argue that the confines of the law continue to reflect an old Ireland, one whose constitution still has laws reflective of the Catholic Church’s grip.

This also includes a constitutional clause that states that a woman’s place is in the home. A referendum on that was expected to take place last October in conjunction with a referendum that removed the offense of blasphemy from the constitution. It has since been postponed.

Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said in a statement Saturday that “it is important to reflect deeply on the implications of this referendum which seeks to expedite the dissolution of marriage,” adding that the government should “recommit resources to marriage preparation and invest resources into marriage enrichment.”

David Graham, 37, who is currently separated, told CNN that when Ireland first introduced divorce, the “outside world might have thought Ireland had become more progressive. But when you look at it, it’s more regressive because they put in stipulations to make it very difficult to get a divorce.”

While he actively supports the upcoming referendum, he fears the new proposed wait time will still restrict separating couples’ ability to move on at their own pace.

“You go through that process and you just want to get through it, and you want to move on — but you’re in a situation you can’t move on.”

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Eiffel Tower closed due to man climbing Paris landmark

Eiffel Tower closed due to man climbing Paris landmark

Eiffel Tower closed due to man climbing Paris landmark

He is now under police control, a Paris police spokesperson told CNN. His motivation for scaling the Paris landmark remains unclear.

Officials closed the tower and began evacuating visitors after the man was first spotted. The situation lasted just over seven hours before the climber’s capture.

Pictures and videos of the individual climbing up the tower, which is 324 meters (1,062 feet) tall, have been circulating online.

“The Eiffel Tower has been closed and is in the process of being evacuated because a person is scaling it,” a spokeswoman for the landmark said earlier in the day.

Irish tourist Claire Murphy, who is on vacation in Paris, told CNN that the lockdown began at 2:15 p.m. (8:15 a.m. ET) and that she had been stuck on the tower’s top floor.

People were stuck on the Eiffel Tower after a person scaled the landmark.

Almost 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year. Completed in 1889, it was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel as part of a “Universal Exposition” marking the centenary of the French Revolution. It celebrated its 130th anniversary last week.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to scale the tower. Three people were spotted climbing the landmark in 2015. It was also evacuated twice in 2010 due to bomb threats, once in 2013 over security concerns and was closed for two days following the terror attacks in Paris in 2015.

In 2017, a protective glass wall measuring 65 millimeters (about 2.5 inches) thick and resistant to bullets was erected around the base of the tower to provide increased security.

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Austrian Chancellor moves to dismiss interior minister amid corruption scandal

Austrian Chancellor moves to dismiss interior minister amid corruption scandal

Austrian Chancellor moves to dismiss interior minister amid corruption scandal

Kurz called on President Alexander Van der Bellen to fire Herbert Kickl, slating him to become the latest far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) politician ousted after party leader and the country’s Vice Chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, quit on Saturday.

Strache’s resignation followed the publication of an undercover video that appears to show him offering government contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

The FPÖ is in a ruling coalition with Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (ÖVP). The ÖVP has been quick to distance itself from its governing partners. On Monday, Kurz took aim at Kickl, a prominent member of the FPÖ, who was the party’s secretary-general at the time of the sting in 2017.

“The decision to dismiss a minister is a necessary step, and one you have to think about very carefully,” Kurz said at a press conference, citing several factors that contributed to his decision, including that as secretary-general Kickl was responsible for the finances of his party.

Given Kickl hasn’t voluntarily stepped aside, Kurz said he had recommended the President remove him. Kurz said he expected the President would follow through with the recommendation.

“I am strongly convinced that we need full transparency and seamless resolution. This is what the Austrian people deserve,” Kurz added.

Kickl, meanwhile, denied any personal wrongdoing. At a press conference, he said Kurz’s government was “drunk on power” and that attempts to kick him out of the government were “an attempt to consolidate their own power in the government.”

An FPÖ spokesperson said that all the party’s ministers would step down if Kickl is fired, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Dent in populist support?

The scandal comes at a delicate time for Europe’s populist parties, which have been tipped to make big gains at the upcoming parliamentary elections between May 23 and May 26.

Austria’s FPÖ is in an alliance with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s League, and Salvini has spoken openly of forming a nationalist bloc in the European Parliament that would take a harder line on immigration.

A far-right rally led by Salvini in Milan on Saturday, however, failed to attract the big crowds predicted.
Salvini says he wants pre-Maastricht EU rules, ahead of far-right rally

The secret footage of Strache filmed in Ibiza two years ago was published Friday by Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine and Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper.

It is not known who recorded the video or set up the meeting.

The following morning, Strache denied doing “anything against the law” but apologized to “everyone I have disappointed with my behavior.”

Russia has denied any involvement in the affair, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that “I cannot in any way evaluate the appearance of this video, because it has nothing to do with the Russian Federation, the president or the government.

“We do not know for sure who this woman is, whether she is Russian, therefore this is a story that does not and cannot have anything to do with us.”

The scandal is the biggest crisis Austria’s governing coalition has faced since forming in 2017, and over the weekend more than 5,000 protesters gathered outside the chancellor’s office in Vienna calling for fresh elections.

Kurz responded by calling for a snap election in September, though it’s unclear how the coalition will work together in the meantime.

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80,000-strong beehive removed from couple’s bedroom wall

80,000-strong beehive removed from couple’s bedroom wall

80,000-strong beehive removed from couple’s bedroom wall

A couple in the historic southern city of Granada, in Andalusia, had been troubled by a strange buzzing noise in their house for some time — and when things got so bad they couldn’t sleep at night, they decided to take action.

Beekeeper Sergio Guerrero told CNN the couple had first noticed bees at their property around a year ago, but no one from the police, firefighters or the local council had been able to help.

When temperatures started to rise, the noise got worse — and beehive relocation expert Guerrero, from local apitherapy company La Colmena Sanadora, was called in.

“From about three months ago there was an unbearable noise and they didn’t know what to do,” said Guerrero. “Just imagine!”

What he found at the house on May 12 was a shock even for an experienced beekeeper: a hive home to around 80,000 bees behind a bedroom wall.

Guerrero said he was surprised the human inhabitants had been able to share a house with such noisy neighbors, especially as the hive was so big that it must have been there for a couple of years.

He said the noise wouldn’t have been constant, but would have fluctuated depending on what the bees were doing that day.

On some days the bees would be buzzing as they came and went, but at other times they would be working quietly in their hive, said Guerrero, providing a moment of peace for the humans next door.

He said the hive would have grown so big because of the large number of flowers in the local area, as well as higher temperatures in recent years, which have lengthened the insects’ reproductive period.

Guerrero said he has received more calls to rescue hives so far this year than ever before, and he believes Andalusia’s bee population is in good health.

“There is more awareness of the importance of bees,” he said.

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Eiffel Tower closed and evacuated as man seen climbing the landmark

Eiffel Tower closed and evacuated as man seen climbing the landmark

Eiffel Tower closed and evacuated as man seen climbing the landmark

Visitors began tweeting pictures and videos of the individual climbing up the tower, which is 324 meters (1,062 feet) tall.

Firefighters at the scene said they were in contact with the man.

“The Eiffel Tower has been closed and is in the process of being evacuated because a person is scaling it,” a spokeswoman for the landmark said.

Firefighters are at the scene and have established contact with the man climbing the tower, a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

Irish tourist Claire Murphy, who is on vacation in Paris, told CNN that the lockdown began at 2:15 p.m. local time and that she was still stuck on the tower’s top floor.

People were stuck on the Eiffel Tower after a person scaled the landmark.

Almost seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower annually, which was completed in 1889.

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