The High Court has ruled that a divorced woman may marry the brother of her former husband in a ruling that overturns laws dating from early in the last century.

The earlier legislation had prevented them from marrying while the woman's former husband was still alive.

The action was brought against the State by 45-year-old Maura O'Shea of Ballybraher, Ballycotton, Co Cork, and 49-year-old Michael O'Shea of the same address.

Maura O'Shea was in court in Dublin today for the decision by Ms Justice Laffoy.

The judge ruled that the provisions of two Acts of 1907 and 1921 which prohibited her marriage to her brother-in-law were not justified in order to protect either the family or the institution of marriage, and were therefore unconstitutional.

The couple only found out about the ban on their marrying each other weeks before they were due to be married some years ago.