Thursday, 26 October 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Desmond: asked the Minister for Social Welfare if any further legal advice has been received from the Attorney General concerning the social welfare entitlement of deserted wives who have been divorced in Britain by their husbands domiciled there and of widows whose husbands had divorced them in Britain.
Mr. J. Brennan: I have not had a second opinion from the Attorney General other than the case stated in relation to widow's pensions in the past. It is on that basis that we are deciding now in regard to deserted wives.
Mr. Tully: Is it not ridiculous that the State, having said it does not recognise divorce, does not recognise the claim of a deserted wife whose husband went to England after deserting her and got divorced there?
Mr. Tully: I am talking about deserted wives. The Minister knows that if a wife has been deserted and the husband goes to England and divorces her the State here refuses to recognise her as a deserted wife.
Mr. J. Brennan: The Deputy referred to the case of a man deserting his wife here and going to England. If there is a divorce in England and the wife returns here we have been treating her in relation to widows' pensions. That has been the case for years.
Mr. Desmond: In relation to deserted wives, when the husband subsequently divorces the wife in England she is denied the deserted wife's allowance here. Is it not an utterly hypocritical situation that, on the one hand, divorce is not recognised in this  country while at the same time, for the administration of our social welfare code, a woman whose husband obtained a divorce from her in England is not entitled to a deserted wife's allowance?
Mr. Desmond: Can the Minister say whether he has had the advice of senior counsel in his Department on this matter? If the Minister were to go before Cardinal Conway he would be in real trouble. He recognises divorce when it suits him. There is a major anomaly in this regard. Has the Minister had the advice of the Attorney General?
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Would the Minister not agree that senior counsel can differ and would he not be well advised to take up the suggestion made by Deputy Desmond and seek the advice of the Attorney General?
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