Ahead of a referendum on divorce a Late Late Show special will take a look at the arguments for and against the introduction of divorce in Ireland.

The Late Late Show held a special programme on 20 June dedicated to the subject of divorce ahead of the referendum to amend Article 41 of the Constitution on 26 June 1986.

Charlie Bird reports on the preparations for the show where the traditional Late Late Show set is being transformed into a courtroom setting.

It is expected that 600,000 households will tune in and RTÉ have made every effort to ensure balance in the programme. Presenter Gay Byrne explains that RTÉ will have no influence over the programme so there cannot be accusations of bias.

The Late Late Show will be introduced by Gay Byrne before pro and anti-divorce arguments are presented in a courtroom setting. An impartial judge the Honorable HR McWilliam will preside over the motion and rule on the evidence put forward. Two barristers selected by the Bar Council, Harold Whelehan Senior Senior Council 'For' the motion and James Nugent Senior Council 'Against' the motion, will call witnesses to present their cases.

Witnesses called by the 'For' Motion include Rina Howard, Psychotherapist and Marriage Counsellor, Paula Scully Solicitor specialising in Family Law, Maureen Gaffney, Senior Clinical Psychologist, and John Hume MP. Witnesses called for the 'Against' Motion include Sean MacBride SC, Iarflaith O'Neil Barrister at Law, Joan O'Brien Founder Member of A.I.M. Chairperson of Women Against Divorce, and Valerie Riches National Secretary Family and Youth Concern.

The programme is being seen by many as crucial to the outcome of the referendum as it may influence some voters who have not yet made up their mind how to vote. Gay Byrne defends the programme format and says that

In any matter of contention or controversy it is always a problem for RTÉ on radio and television. The accusation is always made of bias or lack of objectivity on both sides. This is a subject on which people feel very, very strongly and very committed. So the whole format of tonight's programme is specifically designed to get away from any such accusation.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 June 1986. The reporter is Charlie Bird.