ACCORD marks 40 years of supporting marriage

12 Mar 2010

12 March 2010

ACCORD marks 40 years of supporting marriage

  • ACCORD figures for 2009 show an 11% increase in demand for counselling
  • The three areas listed by clients as being most problematic in their relationships: communication, stress and sexual intimacy
  • Rates of depression and stress in clients are up 14% and 12% respectively
ACCORD, a voluntary agency of the Catholic Church which promotes a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and offers people support in their relationships, marks more than 40 years of service in Ireland on Saturday 13 March.  Two hundred ACCORD members will be meeting in Maynooth to celebrate this special anniversary for the marriage support agency. 

Bishop Willie Walsh, President of ACCORD, emphasised the message of hope expressed by ACCORD over the past 40 years.  Bishop Walsh said “Despite difficulties, many problems in marriage can either be prevented or overcome through timely intervention in the shape of marriage preparation or counselling”.

“More than 50% of the services delivered by ACCORD are provided by volunteers for no fee which enables it to offer services at a much reduced rate or free of charge where necessary.  This is particularly relevant for hard pressed clients in 2010 Ireland.”

Commenting on figures for 2009 Ms Ruth Barror, National Director of ACCORD, said “There was an 11% increase in the number of counselling hours provided last year by ACCORD which brought the number of counselling sessions provided  to over 40,000.  This highlights the fact that more couples are choosing to engage the assistance of professionals in order to work through difficulties that arise in their relationships.  Seeking professional help in times of crisis is strongly encouraged by ACCORD.”

Between 2007 and 2009 the number of clients presenting to ACCORD with financial problems increased by 71% while issues around the use of the internet increased by 87.5%.  The three areas listed by clients as being most problematic in their relationships are communication, stress and sexual intimacy.  Rates of depression and stress in clients are up 14% and 12% respectively.

Ms Barror welcomed the recent publication by the Economic and Social Research Institute/Family Support Agency entitled Family Figures: Family Dynamics and Family Types in Ireland 1986 – 2006.

Ms Barror said “The changes described in this report are also borne out by the experience of ACCORD through our work as marriage education and counselling providers.  The report’s findings are consistent with the experience of ACCORD in that religion, nationality and ethnicity have more to do with influencing family structure than educational attainment and occupation”.

“The report’s finding that the birth of the first child can be a pressure on couples has already been noted by ACCORD which is completing a review of its marriage preparation programme where the module “couple as parents” is receiving particular attention.  While the report found that the rates of separation and divorce were at low levels in Ireland when compared with European figures, there is no room for complacency in terms of supporting marriage in Ireland.”

Ms Barror continued, “The reality today is that most people still marry, on average 20,000 couples each year, and approximately 75% of these couples choose to marry in the Catholic Church.”

Ms Barror acknowledged the continuing support of the Department of Social and Family Affairs and its Family Support Agency.   Ms Barror said, “With the support of the Department, along with the voluntary professional contribution of ACCORD  members and the support of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, ACCORD is seeking ways to increase its level of response to the unprecedented problems facing couples and families during our current economic downturn.


Notes to Editors

ACCORD, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  ACCORD has 58 centres in the North and South of Ireland.  All volunteers undergo professional counselling training and/or facilitation training in advance of becoming members of ACCORD.  Every year ACCORD volunteers receive continuous professional developmental training and are in supervision.  For more information see is a ‘one stop information shop’ for couples preparing for marriage.   It provides a wedding booklet facility which allows couples to create their marriage booklet online – a task which many find challenging.  There is also a frequently asked questions section and of particular interest are the essential steps in the marriage preparation journey which is available on the website in a timeline format.

Further information:
Ruth Barror, National Director 0879680705
Stephen Cummins, Director of Education 0872964956
Liam Lally, Acting Director of Counselling 0868312987