Written Answers. - Civil Marriage.

Mary Coughlan

Question:

231 Ms Coughlan asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the proposals, if any, there are to permit civil marriages taking place in other venues than churches or registry offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3765/98]

My Department is in the process of taking over responsibility for the legislation governing the civil registration system. The existing legislation dates back to the 1850s and needs to be thoroughly examined and overhauled so that a more modern civil registration system can be put in place to meet current and future needs. In this regard there are a number of issues, such as the computerisation of the general register office data and the re-organisation of the General Register Office itself, which will have to be addressed.

I understand that the current situation with regard to venues for marriage is civil marriages may only take place in the office of the appropriate registrar and exceptions to this rule are only allowed on grounds of ill health of one of the parties to the proposed marriage. In general, there are no civil law restrictions on the time or place of a Roman Catholic marriage. Except in the cases of marriage celebrated by special licence, Church of Ireland marriages must be celebrated in a church or chapel.
Any relevant proposals, including those contained in the Family Law Bill presented by Senator Kathleen O'Meara to allow civil marriages to take place in venues other than a registrar's office, a church or a chapel will be addressed in the context of an overall review of the civil registration system.
My Department will shortly be initiating consultations on this complex matter with all interested parties including the Department of Health and Children.