As the UK gets ready for the European elections this week, voters in the Republic of Ireland are also preparing to go to the polls to vote on something you might not expect: divorce law reform. 

The Irish government is holding a referendum on removing a legal requirement for spouses to be separated for four out of the previous five years before they can seek a divorce. It plans to replace it with a requirement for two years' separation. The Catholic church is leading vocal opposition to the proposed reform, but it is expected to pass.

This appears to be part of a trend towards further liberalisation of divorce law internationally, following on from the British government's recent announcement on introducing 'no fault' divorce. Divorce was only legalised in the Republic of Ireland as recently as 1995, on the basis of a very narrow majority in a previous referendum.