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Civil Registration Bill and Church of Ireland

Posted on: March 10th, 2004

Speaking on the Civil Registration Bill, I commented on its provisions for registering marriages. The Bill creates the possibility that the marriage ceremonies of some minority religions would be in conflict with legislation. For example, in the Church of Ireland, people do not make a positive affirmation that there is a reason they should not be married. This Bill, if it is not amended, might conflict with that. Using this example, I pointed out that churches “might end up having to jettison its own liturgy. [The Church of Ireland has] found itself in a great deal of difficulty as a result of this Bill”

The Church of Ireland ceremony dates from the 12th century, and it has not been found particularly faulty. It would be difficult not just for liturgical reasons. The Church of Ireland has only just issued a new prayer book, and it would be extremely inconvenient and costly, to say the very least, to have to reprint it.

There is an issue of conflict between church and State law here, albeit a small church. I ask the government to look at this very sympathetically, particularly on Committee Stage.