Professor Diane Urquhart: Inaugural Lecture
In this inaugural lecture, Professor Diane Urquhart explores Ireland's fraught relationship with divorce. Spanning the island of Ireland over three centuries, the human experience of marriage breakdown is placed centre stage to explore the impact of a highly restrictive and gendered law and its reform. The accessibility of Irish divorce as it moved from a parliamentary process in Westminster, the Irish parliament and the Northern Ireland parliament to a court-based process is considered. Adopting a socio-legal approach, the changing definitions of gendered marital roles and marital cruelty are also assessed. In charting the exceptionalism of Ireland’s divorce provision in a European and imperial framework, a governmental reluctance to reform Irish divorce law which spanned both jurisdictions and centuries is unearthed for the first time. Irish divorce law was therefore long dictated by religious strictures and moral conservatism.