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European elections: Czech Republic and Ireland go to the polls. Irish also voting in divorce referendum. The Church’s objections

(Brussels) Irish and Czech citizens are heading to the polls today to elect their MEPs. Polling stations in the Czech Republic will open at 2pm today and will remain open until the same time tomorrow to allow voters to appoint 21 MEPs (this number will remain unchanged even in the case of Brexit). In 2014, 18.7% of the voting eligible population actually voted. In the Republic of Ireland, polling stations opened at 7am today and will remain open until 10pm tonight. Voters will elect 11 MEPs and two “reserve” candidates who will enter the European Parliament when and if the UK leaves the EU. Turnout in 2014 was 52.4%. Voters in Ireland will also cast their ballot in the Divorce Referendum which, if approved, would allow Parliament to pass legislation to reduce the current four-year period a couple must be apart before they can be divorced. “The objective of the proposed referendum is not to support marriage, rather to liberalise divorce. For this reason it is important to reflect deeply on the implications of this referendum which seeks to expedite the dissolution of marriage”, the chair of the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Denis Nulty, said in a statement about the referendum. It would be better to support and resource “couples and families in preparation for, and during marriage” through the introduction of “socio-economic policies” and “long-term education strategies which promote values such as fidelity and commitment”.

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