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Changes to be made to Civil Partnership Bill

April 4th, 2010 · 12 Comments · Irish Politics, LGBT, Same Sex Partnerships

Today’s Sunday Business Post reports that there will be changes to the Civil Partnership in the coming weeks and the legislation continues it’s progress through committee stage in the Dáil.

Niamh O’Connor reports that the name of the Bill is to be changed to the Civil Partnership and Cohabitation Bill 2009 to reflect the fact that the bill deals with recognition of relationships both for same sex and heterosexual couples.

Amendments to the Bill will also be put forward by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern to extend the the co-habitation period required before couples would be covered in dissolution or benefits accrued. The original period proposed was relationships of 3 years in length or more, the Minister is now proposing that this would be extended so that relationships of 5 years or more will qualify.

These amendments follow a number of calls for change from individuals and groups outside the Oireachtas concerned about the range of rights and responsibilities to be awarded to cohabiting relationships of short length.

The latest of these was from the Irish Farmers Association who on April 1 called for the bill to be changed in echoes of the ‘family farm at risk’ discourse from the 1985 and 1995 divorce referenda campaigns

Is it the lesbian organic farmers that sell you stuff at farmers markets that IFA President John Bryan has a problem with? This was herself’s reaction to the news during the week Cue much mirth from me (and wondering if Bryan does have a problem with the Bill in it’s totality)

But Bryan’s concerns on those in or leaving cohabiting relationships gaining control of farms had been preceded by statements by Professor John Mee and others who claim that the bill may give people the impression they have rights automatically. (See Rossa McMahon’s recent post on the other issues causing concern to some legal professionals. )

It’s somewhat stunning (to me anyway!) that this bill has been published for over 9 months and it is only now that we see lawyers and others getting worried about it’s contents. I had heard very little about these sections in the debates in the Second and Committee stages of the Bill’s passage through the Dáil. The changes to the Bill’s title will be welcome and work on education and information campaigns on it’s effects will also need to be considered and outlined by the Ministers responsible. The Oireachtas is on a break until April 20th and I’ve yet to hear on what date the committee stage of the bill will recommence.

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